As part of our ongoing coverage of the 2020 Saskatoon municipal election, CTV News at Five anchor Jeremy Dodge is sitting down with each of the city's six mayoral candidates to discuss why they are running for office and what they plan to do if elected. Here is Jeremy's conversation with Cary Tarasoff. You can also watch their conversation using the player above. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
We're here at the Granite Curling Club, a location of your choosing, because this has become your rallying call, part of your mayoral campaign. And it's about saving the city's curling rinks.
I'm trying not to make it a political thing, I've actually asked all the other candidates to get involved with this, have their own unique ideas. But if we fail to save these rinks we're going to regret it. It'll be the last chance we have to do it and when they're gone they'll be gone forever. So we need to move now and it's desperate. Once I found out how desperate it was, it's conflicting - so I need to try to do as much as I can non-politically to try to help these rinks get their voices out.
They provide very good service for inner-city kids, they provide activities for seniors, LGBTQ, there's lots of different benefits to curling. The (incumbent) mayor is all about having winter activities, there a WinterYXE fund that's got $240,000 - it's a fraction of it to pay all the taxes for all the curling rinks, just to keep them alive.
This particular rink has the wrong type of zoning. It was zoned IL2, which means you can't have public assembly and you can't have a commercial recreation area. Look at this, what do you think this is? So they're very limited in the off-season even doing it but technically they shouldn't exist in that zoning no matter what. The city has been dropping the ball. It needs to change, it needs to change really quickly.
You also mentioned the idea of tunnelling under the city - I mean this is a real issue, the trains in Saskatoon have been a thing for a long time. You have come up with a solution. It's a little outside the box, but you think this has some merit.
Well, it's done lots of places. More than 150 cities around the world have rail lines of some sort underneath them ... Yeah, people are skeptical, but we have lots of mining background in our province. At Cigar Lake, they use rail underneath the ground right now. A different type of tunnel for sure, but there was a lot of talk about ventilation on tunnels. CP themselves are experts in that. They have the longest tunnel in North America, over nine miles, so ventilation is not something they're worried about.
I'm not saying it is the solution - I never said I was the expert - I'm just saying I worked in mining. Everybody I could talk to that has good mining experience, good geology experience - I don't understand why it wasn't looked at. It should have been. And now the rail companies are saying, no comment, instead of "No Cary, we'd never want to look at that." That's optimistic. Because that's further than (Charlie Clark) or (Don Atchison) got to.
Crime, safety, drugs, gangs, violence have been a concern for a long time and don't seem to be going away. How do we handle that?
Drugs, gangs in our city, people are maybe not aware of the undercurrent that takes place but I am personally. Everybody knows my neighbour was killed in 2012 and knows that I took part in murder trials for these super violent white-supremacist drug guys from Alberta that hit the wrong house, wrong address, everything was wrong and they shot up this house and killed this lady in front of her kids. That came to my door. One morning, quiet area, we've had no issues at all and it hit me. It could have been anywhere in the city. All of a sudden everybody's concerned and I am too.
The whole city is getting out of control at times. And we have an area of the city in Pleasant Hill, Riversdale, Caswell Hill, there is so much going on there. And what we do is we keep divesting. We keep creating bigger and bigger holes. We need to infill with people living there and people who live in a house and want to take care of it and protect it are more likely to be vigilant. And we need to push crime out. But cutting police budgets in a time when more and more violence is hitting our cities seems very counterproductive to me and would never have my support.
The issue has come up about the public library - a lot of millions earmarked for that. But there's other capital projects. A new arena down the road, a new convention centre maybe but yet here we are in a pandemic. The economy is at an all-time low from circumstances no one can really help. What is your view on funnelling dollars to these big projects?
It would stop immediately. I know people say, well, there might be one legal way which I already disclosed in the press, and yeah, force majeure (breaching a contract in exceptional circumstances) could probably stop everything really quickly.
The other day Mayor Clark was saying that the library has already expended tens of millions of dollars and that they're going to create thousands of jobs. Well two things can't be right about that - if they expended tens of millions of dollars already, they had just started planning, drafting. Where did all that money go? I work on large projects. That is extremely excessive.
Thousands of jobs, well, this budget for this project is four times too small for thousands of jobs to be created. He doesn't understand that component. And creating jobs immediately by just creating the library - never going to happen. It's going to take them a year and a half to create drawings, another six months, easy, to get a building permit, so we're talking two years down the road before we get in the ground. So as a job creation strategy, municipal government is never good at it. We're better to let private industry and business drive business growth and job growth because they sustain it longer. Our tax dollars run out, the job will be gone. But what a business creates won't.
Also, the library is not a destination, as in a tourism destination. It might create some interest, yes, but they're always spending more money than they make by a long shot. They're not a money-making proposition.
I want a good library. We're big users of libraries, my wife and I, but I do not want this excessive library. I just want them to press pause for one year and to not take $5.5 million from the taxpayer next year. Leave that in our coffers. They've got more than enough money to keep doing their drawings, to keep planning. It doesn't stop them because they won't be in the ground for two years. But it does stop the ability for council to not have that money.
If we lose that money out of our coffers and we take it on debt and something more critical happens with the pandemic, which isn't going away today, we have to be prepared for the worst case. I was trained in the military. I'm preparing for the worst-case for our city. I want to get everything tight around me, I want to cut costs and I want to sit on it until we know things are better. It's clear as that.
But all of this mega-stuff is just talk by people who think all these big hypes will create something. We're better to create small, small changes. We're better to keep this business open than to close and lose these jobs. Every job we keep is another job we don't have to recreate. And it's harder to recreate a job than to keep a job. And that is a pure, simple business fact, and nobody seems to want to talk about it.
Why should people put a check mark next to Cary Tarasoff?
I get fired up about things - it's hard to tell! I'm just a plain guy. I'm a working person. I'm a blue-collar in a way. I'm an office guy but on the job site I take the most abuse from guys.
But construction, planning, a lot of these things, the pandemic is directly related to what I trained in in the military. So I don't really trust some of these people to lead us through a pandemic. I wouldn't advertise on face masks because I may have to legally mandate that everybody wear them. I think it's actually a conflict of interest to have "Vote for Cary Tarasoff for Mayor" on my mask if I'm mayor. But people don't feel that way. Well, that's how I feel.
So if you vote for me, I'm going to be point bank, I'm going to push hard to get things done. And I have very technical ways of achieving that. So if you believe in me, I would appreciate your vote.