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Old Posted Dec 19, 2008, 5:46 PM
acron acron is offline
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Saskatoon Idea Exchange: Where do we grow from here?

in other news, city manager phil (?) richards announced his retirement. does that mean that we will no longer be terrorized by terrible city planning decisions (saskplace on a farm, a casino in a field, angle parking on second ave., hight restrictions on buildings downtown, etc.)? maybe not right away. but its a step in the right direction. ... i'm not saying one man is responsible for all of that awfulness. quite the opposite, this province and city has been crippled by false conciousness since tommy douglas. but finally people's mindset is starting to change. backward thinking people are dying and retiring, people are getting out and seeing the world. one city manager at a time the city is changing and taking on a new identity... i am a dreamer.. i think we can turn this city around into a modern metropolis. we don't have to be dragged to the bottom by our predecessors who always claim that we are "small," "we can't do this, we can't do that," bla bla bla shut up already!!... 50 years ago saskatoon was bigger than calgary! and saskatchewan has always had more resources than alberta, the difference is that alberta was determined to thrive, and people here were content to let the government run the province into the ground. governments do not inspire people, they put people in jail and give out parking tickets (but that's a topic for another day). bottom line - the only thing that can stop us from becoming the richest province in canada, having an NHL team, etc., is people like lenore swystun and the NDP. if we can keep the socialists where they belong (at the bottom of wascana lake) the possibilities are endless
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Old Posted Dec 19, 2008, 7:02 PM
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acron, I couldn't have said it any better myself. You have hit the nail on the head. I sure hope more people, and I also believe they are, start thinking positive like this and not the anti-change/new thinking which has held us back.
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Old Posted Dec 19, 2008, 7:23 PM
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Sober second thought

That was quite the rant acron… here’s my two cents: While I agree that there have been some bizare city planning decisions (and believe me I agree with you on that), I don’t quite understand the right wing rampage you just went on. Do you want a modern metropolis with interesting amenities and world class attractions or a concrete jungle? I can’t wrap my head around the constant comparisons to Calgary (and the rest of Alberta for that matter) that are always made... Calgary is a much bigger city with a lot more money largely due to the oil sands, but why is it that we are trying to emulate the soulless concrete jungle model that Calgary so perfectly demonstrates. Why don’t we strive to have a city more like Montreal (which by the way has plenty of “socialist” sentiment) which is a much more balanced, cultural and WORLD CLASS city. Say what you will, but people don’t travel from all over the world to go to placed like Calgary; they DO to go to places like Montreal.

I love Saskatoon, and I think it’s a great place to live but I’m sorry we are never going to be the “next Calgary” because there just aren’t the amenities here! And by amenities I don’t mean (just) NHL teams, big highways, skyscrapers…; I’m talking about the mountains and the other natural attractions. While I love Saskatoon, most people aren’t excited about moving to a place with a horizon like a ruler and no ocean!

Speaking of the natural amenities near Calgary being a major draw, do you really think that we should be going full steam ahead with oil sands development the same way that they are in Alberta? We are going to destroy the natural amenities that we do have. For instance where is all the water going to come from that is required to extract all this oil… we’re land locked here in case you haven’t noticed. And what about all the heavy metals associated with uranium tailings up north? Do you want to take a fishing vacation to a beautiful lake where the fish have so much selenium, cadmium and arsenic in them that you can’t eat them? I diverge…

My point is this: We are still a fairly small and young city. But we do have a lot of opportunities that, for better or worse will involve a lot of resource development (which will hopefully be well thought out unlike much of the civic planning!). Lets make sure that positive changes are made that actually make Saskatoon (and the rest of the province) a better place to live. All this right wing “full steam ahead with uranium and oil” nonsense is really short sited and not constructive. In the long run oil isn’t going to make Saskatoon a truly modern metropolis that people will travel to from anywhere, we need a little creativity and the ability to look beyond next door!
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Old Posted Dec 19, 2008, 7:50 PM
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Originally Posted by acron View Post
in other news, city manager phil (?) richards announced his retirement. does that mean that we will no longer be terrorized by terrible city planning decisions (saskplace on a farm, a casino in a field, angle parking on second ave., hight restrictions on buildings downtown, etc.)? maybe not right away. but its a step in the right direction. ... i'm not saying one man is responsible for all of that awfulness. quite the opposite, this province and city has been crippled by false conciousness since tommy douglas. but finally people's mindset is starting to change. backward thinking people are dying and retiring, people are getting out and seeing the world. one city manager at a time the city is changing and taking on a new identity... i am a dreamer.. i think we can turn this city around into a modern metropolis. we don't have to be dragged to the bottom by our predecessors who always claim that we are "small," "we can't do this, we can't do that," bla bla bla shut up already!!... 50 years ago saskatoon was bigger than calgary! and saskatchewan has always had more resources than alberta, the difference is that alberta was determined to thrive, and people here were content to let the government run the province into the ground. governments do not inspire people, they put people in jail and give out parking tickets (but that's a topic for another day). bottom line - the only thing that can stop us from becoming the richest province in canada, having an NHL team, etc., is people like lenore swystun and the NDP. if we can keep the socialists where they belong (at the bottom of wascana lake) the possibilities are endless

As Macca said this should likely have it's own thread or be ignored, but it's friday....so I fee like adding a cyncial response...since when was Calgary a well planned city? or other bastions of right wing ideology? Atlanta, Detriot...all those free spending, get out of the way and just go with it cities. Would it be terrible if we ended up like some of the other more left-leaning cities in Canada...Montreal? Vancouver...who would want to live in a city like that. Oh wait....that would be great....though really, the dominant political bent of a city/province is pretty hard thing to lay blame on for city planning decisions. Copenhagen is pretty incredible in many ways....but New York is pretty great too.
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Old Posted Dec 19, 2008, 11:53 PM
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Well I really think the politics should be left for a seperate thread just b/c it will become overbearing in this one. Living in Calgary for a while all I can say is that city has ZERO personality, it's big and boring. I lived d/t, which is "the place to be" and it was about as exciting as a wet dish rag...not to mention dangerous. Calgary is a commercial, industry based city, not entertainment and tourism. I really think if we want Saskatoon to be a progressive world class metropolis, yes I used world class, we really need to focus on developing the city as a place to be desired. When it comes down to it, nobody cares if you have husky oil head offices in your city b/c, well its just boring. People like to be enticed like they are in Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto. Saskatoon has plenty of potential to be in this ranking, we just need big thinkers and well I guess some dollars to go along with it, but i feel that will be coming to the city soon. Within our life times we will witness a major transformation of this city from a sleepy prairie city into a desired metropolis.
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Old Posted Dec 20, 2008, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by acron View Post
in other news, city manager phil (?) richards announced his retirement. does that mean that we will no longer be terrorized by terrible city planning decisions (saskplace on a farm, a casino in a field, angle parking on second ave., hight restrictions on buildings downtown, etc.)? maybe not right away. but its a step in the right direction. ... i'm not saying one man is responsible for all of that awfulness. quite the opposite, this province and city has been crippled by false conciousness since tommy douglas. but finally people's mindset is starting to change. backward thinking people are dying and retiring, people are getting out and seeing the world. one city manager at a time the city is changing and taking on a new identity... i am a dreamer.. i think we can turn this city around into a modern metropolis. we don't have to be dragged to the bottom by our predecessors who always claim that we are "small," "we can't do this, we can't do that," bla bla bla shut up already!!... 50 years ago saskatoon was bigger than calgary! and saskatchewan has always had more resources than alberta, the difference is that alberta was determined to thrive, and people here were content to let the government run the province into the ground. governments do not inspire people, they put people in jail and give out parking tickets (but that's a topic for another day). bottom line - the only thing that can stop us from becoming the richest province in canada, having an NHL team, etc., is people like lenore swystun and the NDP. if we can keep the socialists where they belong (at the bottom of wascana lake) the possibilities are endless
Although I partially agree with some of your rant, I must correct you on "50 years ago saskatoon was bigger than calgary!". Have a look at Statscan figures over the last 100 years. Once you've done that, come back here and post your findings.

Saskatoon never had more people than any of the Western Canadian cities (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, or Winnipeg...and had fewer people than Regina up until 1985).

Last edited by Ruckus; Dec 21, 2008 at 1:16 AM.
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Old Posted Dec 20, 2008, 2:05 AM
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I hate to be a negative nilly but I doubt Saskatoon will ever be this world class metropolis that tourists flock to. I think a good point was brought up earlier that we're just in the middle of nowhere, no beaches, no mountains or oceans anywhere near us, cold winters and no major centers nearby. It's a big pain in the neck to get here by air and you always end up sitting in Calgary or Minneapolis for four hours. Also we have the highest violent crime rate in Canada and every weekend like half a dozen people get stabbed. The accidents in this city have increased by 48% this year. Seems people here either don't know to drive or our infrastructure can't handle the increase in traffic volume.

Also every time a developer wants to build something here it seems they're met by miles of red tape and public opposition.

I think the city is moving in the right direction, the south bridge, the river landing, the lake placid development and the city yards development. The new areas of town seem nice and have a charm about them. I also think I saw on the news yesterday that they've set up a committee to examine the violent crimes issue.

I think Saskatoon could develop it's own charm and carve out it's own unique identity, aside from just being a place to live. Although I think it ever becoming some hot spot tourist destination is just a pipe dream. Maybe one day though you'll be able to tell someone in Europe that you're from Saskatoon and they'll know what the heck you're talking about.
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2008, 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by ninipanini View Post
That was quite the rant acron… here’s my two cents: While I agree that there have been some bizare city planning decisions (and believe me I agree with you on that), I don’t quite understand the right wing rampage you just went on. Do you want a modern metropolis with interesting amenities and world class attractions or a concrete jungle? I can’t wrap my head around the constant comparisons to Calgary (and the rest of Alberta for that matter) that are always made... Calgary is a much bigger city with a lot more money largely due to the oil sands, but why is it that we are trying to emulate the soulless concrete jungle model that Calgary so perfectly demonstrates. Why don’t we strive to have a city more like Montreal (which by the way has plenty of “socialist” sentiment) which is a much more balanced, cultural and WORLD CLASS city. Say what you will, but people don’t travel from all over the world to go to placed like Calgary; they DO to go to places like Montreal.

I love Saskatoon, and I think it’s a great place to live but I’m sorry we are never going to be the “next Calgary” because there just aren’t the amenities here! And by amenities I don’t mean (just) NHL teams, big highways, skyscrapers…; I’m talking about the mountains and the other natural attractions. While I love Saskatoon, most people aren’t excited about moving to a place with a horizon like a ruler and no ocean!

Speaking of the natural amenities near Calgary being a major draw, do you really think that we should be going full steam ahead with oil sands development the same way that they are in Alberta? We are going to destroy the natural amenities that we do have. For instance where is all the water going to come from that is required to extract all this oil… we’re land locked here in case you haven’t noticed. And what about all the heavy metals associated with uranium tailings up north? Do you want to take a fishing vacation to a beautiful lake where the fish have so much selenium, cadmium and arsenic in them that you can’t eat them? I diverge…

My point is this: We are still a fairly small and young city. But we do have a lot of opportunities that, for better or worse will involve a lot of resource development (which will hopefully be well thought out unlike much of the civic planning!). Lets make sure that positive changes are made that actually make Saskatoon (and the rest of the province) a better place to live. All this right wing “full steam ahead with uranium and oil” nonsense is really short sited and not constructive. In the long run oil isn’t going to make Saskatoon a truly modern metropolis that people will travel to from anywhere, we need a little creativity and the ability to look beyond next door!

Hi guys, it appears I've stirred a little ire with my comment. I apologize if I stepped on some toes but that was kind of my goal -just to get people a little emotional. Further, I apologize to those who wish this page to be strickly construction related. In the future, I'll try to keep my posts related to the construction subject matter.

First, I want to confirm that people who look at this page are interested in "Saskatoon" and "construction." Having said that, I am under the assumption that people want to see MORE construction, rather than less (which ever shape or form that maybe).

And now I must state something that I don't intend to be rude, but I feel needs to be said... Wanting construction in this city, without an introspection as to why we haven't had as much as other places over the past 100 years is akin to wanting hard rock abs but refusing to go to the gym! The foregoing sentence is worth a second read, and a third and a forth... if you don't know where you're coming from you don't know where you are going.

Now another thought on politics. Politics is just a beautiful battleground of ideas. Some ideas are better than others. History is awash with examples of good ideas triumph over bad ideas. For example, slavery was a bad idea. Putting people in ovens in the 1940s was a bad idea. I would argue that the later part of the 20th century showed that socialism was a bad idea. China swallowed the hard pill in the late 1970s when they began to reform into a free market economy. Russia had to swallowed a really hard pill in the late 1980s and early 1990s and abandon socialism. I have been to both places in recent years and I can tell you that both countries are far better off now than they were in the 1980s. When I left eastern europe in the early 1990s the only thing that that ideology produced was long lines for toilet paper.
The average standard of living for someone in abosolute poverty in the west was BETTER than the standard of living of the middle class in the former socialist countries (and yes there was a definite class structure in those societies as well). This is difficult for me to admit, because I was once very much a socialist myself. I think the problem for many peole who identify as being left leaning, is the false view of success and the constant mental search for things that are bad. People falsly interpret someone's success as a direct threat to their own livelihood. This is wrong. Odds are if someone around you is successfull, you will benefit from it in one way or another. Finally, living in a constant world of cynics and people telling you can and can't do is an awful place to live. People who say they are cynical are just people who live in fear. Cynics are afraid to get their hopes up, because they fear of being dissapointed. And that fear keeps people from doing what they really want. Being dissapointed and let down, is not a bad thing! It should be viewed as a hidden treasure! It is an opportunity to sculpt your spirit! Nothing that was ever worth dreaming about came easy, it is through challanges and difficulties that people learned and became stronger and ended up doing really cool things like send a man into space, rid the world of slavery, create techonolgy that allows people to communicate instantly with eachother all over the world! Gahndi, a poor man from India, brought down the entire British Empire! He had no resources, no money, no political friends in high places. But his heart was in the right place and he had a spirit that could not be broken. Think abou that the next time you walk by his statue down town.

Saskatchewan, being a little bit isolated from the rest of the world, has been a little bit slower in coming to the same conclusion as Russia and China. But it is finally happening here and I am excited because I don't want to leave this place like all of my friends did over the previos decade, because of more jobs in other provinces. I want people to come here an this to be a vibrant place just like all of you.

But the real problem is not the political parties or royalty structures. It is the mindset of the people. Everything that has ever happened in this world is the product of the human mind. There was a time when people thought the sun revolved around the earth. You could have gotten burned at the stake for saying otherwise. But people like Capurnicus changed people's MINDS and disproved that fase idea that dominated the minds of the entire Roman Catholic Empire! Peoples' minds is the ultimate vehicle that drives change and innovation. The most successful people in history are those that did not accept the limits that other people tried to place in their minds. "You can't do this because... You can't do that because..." You can always find 100 things that stand in the way of your goals. You guys proved my point with all of your replies! You did a data dump to everyone of all the negative limits that stand in the way of this city from growing and expanding. If you accept those limits, then you will always be from a city that no one has heard of in Europe, and the rest of Canada scoffs at as a hickville (and I have travelled in Europe and agree that no one has ever heard of Saskatoon lol). But I encourage you guys not to accept those limitations in your minds. The possiblities for this city really are endless! Can you tell me what Edmonton or Winnipeg offer as far as a "focal view"? Nothing, they are prarie cities just like this place, yet they are more than 3 times the size...
Finally, I agree that its not about the biggest buildings. But its about being able to inspire people to move here and live here. It is will be a challange, and it will take time. But we must embrace new ideas and innovative solutions rather than dismiss everything as a pipe dream, and harass developers who want to make this city better just because they are from another province (Riverlanding project for example). We need to embrace foreign investment, as that is what will lift this city out of poverty and make it an attractive place to be. People will not stab or kill others if they have a good job and a way to dream about the future! I know this because I personally work with poverty stricken people in the Riversdale area and 20th street. our previous governments failed these people miserably! they did not to lift the poor communities out of poverty. all that happened was the rest of the province became just as poor ... I say embrace new ideas, challange your own views. Let people with bright ideas thrive rather than drive them out of town. In the big picture, that is the kind of thinking that will solve the world's problems. Think about it, in the early 1990s everyone was talking about the destruction of the rain forest in Brazil. You don't hear about that as much anymore.. Why? Because due to innovation and the rise of the internet and computers the global demand for paper has plummetted to the ground thereby avoiding the need to chop down the rain forest at the same mass rate. Information is now being transmitted through computers rather than books and letters! Look at what you are doing this very moment!! How is that for a free market solving a global challange! I would argue that the internet solution turned out to be a far better way than having a government forcing the people to stop what they are doing. This goes back to my earlier point.

Now as far as our the oil sands and other resources. Again, I'm not saying we should just adopt the Alberta model and go forward with destroying our north, but there is got to be a way to increase efficiency and make it an environmentally acceptable process. For example, you may not need all that water to extract the oil sands. Hot steam injection is just one method that Syncrude and Suncore adopted. We may not need to burn gas to heat the sands like in Alberta either. Here's a thought, why not use excess energy from the proposed nuclear reactor to extract the oil sands? No need to use all our clean water, no need to burn gas. The solutions are there if we look for them. FYI in the 1990s the oil sands developers in Alberta wanted to build a nuclear reactor near Fort Mac as a joint venture with the Saskatchewan. This could have been already done, but Saskpower and the governing party of the day shelved that idea. They felt it was better to burn dirty coal for the next 200 years, rather than embrace nuclear energy....
Anyway, that was just another example of Saskatchewan's past xenophobia toward new ideas, new solutions, and the outside world.

We are all going to be wearing space suits soon, I hope we get with the program.

Again, I appologize for the long rant unrelated to construction.... I hope I didn't offend people too much. I think at the end of the day we all want the same thing, to live in a vibrant cool city where we can grow old and be proud of. You guys have good ideas, and I enjoy reading your thoughts. Again, I look forward to visiting this page and reading your comments.


Take care and live with passion!

"... 10% of people are born to lose, 10% born to win, the other 80% can be swayed either way..." - anonymous
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2008, 12:53 AM
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sasktoon should just strive to make its self sasktoon and nothing els
and no i don't mean being a hick town..

its time for the midle of canada to shine sask and man
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2008, 1:11 AM
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Saskatoon Idea Exchange: Where do we go from here?

acron, your energy and enthusiasm for Saskatchewan is intense, and I must say I do share your optimism for what may lie ahead (a Coming of Age of sorts, SK reborn!).

I think a big part of a successful strategy to attract people and make this a place worth visiting comes down to what our strengths are and what they could be (can we build or encourage further development of unique attractions? What are attractions?), but we must also acknowledge our geographic weakness (e.g. no ocean, no nearby mountain ranges...climate -> climate change?).

Formula for Greatness?

Many cities strive to be world cities through signature architecture and unique recreational or entertainment venues/events, I think that is something we need to do more of (e.g. new stadium in Regina...although not at the expense of other programs or facilities in their city...chronic funding cuts --> a likely outcome is greater social inequality --> damages a city's image/status (both internally, and externally) = tourists and potential new arrivals will reflect on their experiences in the city in a negative way, fancy stadium or not!).

Of course, things like stadiums become more attainable and acceptable if you have a larger and stronger tax base (e.g. more people, and wealthier), well, the discussion has now come full circle...--> more people --> more tax revenue --> greater potential for signature development (the wealthy/creative/educated need these to validate themselves...that's my line of thinking) and maintaining/increasing funding for programs and facilities benefiting most people --> increase in health, education, and social standing of all citizens (inequalities can be minimized) --> Saskatchewan becomes an attractive place for families, entrepreneurs, businesses --> more people, and the cycle repeats indefinitely (ideally!).

acron mentioned history as an important factor to consider when charting a path and dreaming up grand proposals/ideas. Yes, history is important...as they say, you can't begin to know where your going, if you don't know where you've been...or something like that, you know what I mean

Anyways, I can't really speak to anything specifically that will lift this city and province to new heights, it'll be combination of factors (acron also mentioned people's attitudes/mindset...and politicians/businesses/entrepreneurs are selling an idea, a thought, a way of life that people buy into. Of course, its an easy sell when you have a close neighbor who has fortunately or unfortunately charted a different path...).

Anyone else feel like posting random thoughts about an idealistic future in Saskatoon? The floor is yours

Last edited by Ruckus; Dec 21, 2008 at 2:01 AM.
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2008, 1:18 AM
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good idea saskftw anyhow sasktoon is a canadian city witch its own identity it needs to build on this and make its self better and bee a proud member of canada just as every city and town in this country and world should be doing
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2008, 7:49 PM
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Saskatchewan has always been a free market economy--perhaps with some more government intervention than in other jurisdictions -- but free nonetheless. Any attempt to equate what has, does or will go on here with the former Soviet Bloc or Maoist China is patently ridiculous.
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Old Posted Dec 22, 2008, 4:53 AM
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A bit of background information on World cities.

Excerpt from the Wikipedia page on 'Global Cities'...

Quote:


[...]

Global City or world city status is seen as beneficial, and because of this many groups have tried to classify and rank which cities are seen as 'world cities' or 'non-world cities'. [3] Although there is a general consensus upon leading world cities, [4] the criteria upon which a classification is made can affect which other cities are included. [3] The criteria for identification tend either to be based on a "yardstick value" ("e.g. if the producer-service sector is the largest sector, then city X is a world city")[3] or on an "imminent determination" ("if the producer-service sector of city X is greater than the producer-service sector of N other cities, then city X is a world city"). [3]

The characteristics sometimes chosen include

* International, first-name familiarity; whereby a city is recognized without the need for a political subdivision. For example, although there are numerous cities and other political entities with the name London or variations on it, one would say "London", not "London, United Kingdom".
* Active influence on and participation in international events and world affairs; for example, Washington, Berlin, Brussels are major capitals of influential nations or unions.
* A fairly large population (the centre of a metropolitan area with a population of at least one million, typically several million).
* A major international airport that serves as an established hub for several international airlines.
* An advanced transportation system that includes several highways and/or a large mass transit network offering multiple modes of transportation (rapid transit, light rail, regional rail, ferry, or bus).
* In the West, several international cultures and communities (such as a Chinatown, a Little Italy, a Tehrangeles or other immigrant communities); for example, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, São Paulo and Vancouver. In other parts of the world, cities which attract large foreign businesses and related expatriate communities; for example, Hong Kong, Moscow, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.
* International financial institutions, law firms, corporate headquarters, international conglomerates, and stock exchanges (for example the World Bank, or the New York Stock Exchange) that have influence over the world economy.
* An advanced communications infrastructure on which modern trans-national corporations rely, such as fiberoptics, Wi-Fi networks, cellular phone services, and other high-speed lines of communications.
* World-renowned cultural institutions, such as museums and universities.
* A lively cultural scene, including film festivals (such as the Berlinale or the Toronto International Film Festival), premieres, a thriving music or theatre scene (for example, West End theatre and Broadway); an orchestra, an opera company, art galleries, and street performers.
* Several powerful and influential media outlets with an international reach, such as the BBC, Reuters, The New York Times, or Agence France-Presse.
* A strong sporting community, including major sports facilities, home teams in major league sports, and the ability and historical experience to host international sporting events such as the Olympic Games, Football World Cup, or Grand Slam tennis events.

[...]

Source
Items in bold are attainable in the near distant future and governments and businesses in Saskatchewan have the means to do so (e.g. valued finite natural resources FTW...yes, I am that naive).

All other criteria will develop decades afterwards. We're talking 50-70 years minimum, although, that's not good enough for some of us.

So the anxious mind asks, can we fast track growth (e.g. 25-35 years...)?

An experienced mind asks, is it wise to encourage intense growth for prolonged periods? What are the objectives of such a growth plan? How do we measure growth? Must we only concern ourselves with changes in population or GDP?

I'm as curious about the 'big picture' as I am with relatively insignificant details, but, alas, the effort to predict outcomes is far beyond my knowledge level and available free-time.

^ Why we have governments, NGOs, and think tanks

Of course, the concept of Global City could be redefined in the decades ahead...opportunities or challenges?
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Old Posted Dec 22, 2008, 5:27 AM
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Saskatchewan has always been a free market economy--perhaps with some more government intervention than in other jurisdictions -- but free nonetheless. Any attempt to equate what has, does or will go on here with the former Soviet Bloc or Maoist China is patently ridiculous.
Quite right.

The degree to which a market is free is defined by constraints (e.g. laws, regulation, taxes, subsidies) imposed by government.

The Soviet Bloc and Peoples Republic of China are much less free than Saskatchewan, have been, and currently are...always? Be afraid, very afraid

There is a belief that market variables and scenarios can be measured precisely, and compared across space and time against other market variables and scenarios...economics, my least favorite subject.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2009, 7:37 PM
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This is a great thread idea Acron. I think that there's an important distinction here that is being missed: The problem as I see it in this province is not one so much of political alignments but as you said before of attitudes. I like to call it the coffee row mentality, and I hope I don't offend too many people either. No matter how things are going there is nothing talked about that isn't negative. People don't stream to Alberta because there is neccesarily a better job or oppurtunity there for them, but because they believe that there is a better oppurtunity for them.

Then we have "leaders" who instead of proudly declaring to the rest of the country that we are finally a HAVE province, spend their time trying to convince everyone that we are being short changed and that we're really a have not.

I'm still all for a social democracy but I'm with you we don't need to be big but we need to collectively decide that we can be great.
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Old Posted Feb 21, 2009, 11:46 PM
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Cityscape must reflect values of citizens

By Ryan Walker and Robert Patrick, Special to The StarPhoenixFebruary 20, 2009

Following is the viewpoint of the writers, both University of Saskatchewan professors of regional and urban planning.

A lot has changed since Saskatoon's last community visioning initiative, Plan Saskatoon, more than 10 years ago. Planning is concerned with future-seeking. This is quite different from remaining a spectator to the present torque of development.

If you understand the whole of the city as an extension of your private home, it is not hard to understand the importance of participatory planning for the future. Like a private home should be a place of quality, self-expression and the reproduction of personal values, so too, should your city.

For us, concepts like becoming an "urban playground" lack depth and can become a diversion from building more durable urban quality. Instead, we advocate for human relationship-building with the natural and built environments, and the democratic process of community visioning and planning for the future.

Environment and society

We see a deepening relationship between urban residents and the environment in initiatives like RoadMap 2020, the Rivergreen Ecovillage and the tremendous force of our youth who organized the We Are Many urban environment festival in Saskatoon last summer. Decisions regarding urban growth and development should be made accordingly.

Naturalizing the cityscape with initiatives such as green roofs, xeriscaping and new storm water management processes are some ideas. So is enhancing the natural vegetation along the urban river corridor. This calls into question the new hard-edged, concrete shoreline of River Landing and whether a concept from the 1980s matches our current thinking about greening the city.

Even bigger decisions need to be made respecting our pattern of growth. Establishing an urban growth boundary would help to limit our conversion of open "greenfield" into low density suburbia.

Higher urban density integrated with multiple and varied land uses raises accessibility to activity sites such as work, recreation and shopping, while reducing automobile dependency. Subdivisions built with energy efficient buildings, district energy systems and conservation of natural site features may appeal to the evolving values of many in Saskatoon.

Short walks to most amenities (banks, stores, restaurants) and covered, secure transit stops will enhance urban form and function and allow us more choices for daily living that fit better with our environmental sensibilities. It should cost us less to maintain and upgrade infrastructure if we live in a more compact urban form.

As the city grows, we should be asking how we see ourselves getting around this urban place. For decades we've been making it more difficult to move about our city in anything but the private automobile. Limiting our daily transportation options has inevitably impacted air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and physical activity levels.

We do need cars for their convenience, but what about other options for some of our regular mobility patterns? Decades ago in Portland, Ore., light rail, bus routes and bike lanes took priority over bitumen for cars. If we plan for moving people instead of cars, the physical environment of our city will change.

Citizens can infuse their community values into their urban development. Last year, Vancouver adopted the "EcoDensity Charter." It places environmental sustainability at the centre of all city planning decisions that relate to private and public developments. The Ontario government, through its Places to Grow Act 2005, has directed municipalities to focus development patterns such that 40 per cent of new housing is built within the already built-up perimeter, thus reducing low-density urban sprawl.

Heritage and depth of identity

Our city's built heritage is central to our history. How important is it to Saskatonians that they are able to walk down the street and recount the memories of several generations of people, architecture, and streetscape? Saskatoon has displayed ambivalenc e toward its built heritage, with both successes (like conversion of the Fairbanks-Morse warehouse and King George Hotel) and failures (like the demolished Barry Hotel and prospective loss of St. Mary School).

The City of Kingston has prioritized its relationship with built heritage. One recent example is the Queen's University School of Business. It keeps historic elements of an 1892 schoolhouse and blends them into a contemporary building design consistent with the local value of integrating new buildings with the historic character of the city.

Imagine if we did something like this with St. Mary School -- perhaps as housing, office or live-work space -- as a centre to the planned new residential development around it.

Heritage value also comes from commemorating stories and landscapes less visible in the present built form. Native Studies students recently rekindled the stories of the Round Prairie Métis south of the Dakota Whitecap First Nation who, by the end of the 1930s, had permanently settled in the Holiday Park area of Saskatoon and on the east side of the river, including the site of today's Aden Bowman Collegiate.

Preserving our public history through built form and commemoration is as much a part of the democratic process of future-seeking as determining the pattern of new development.

Quality urban design

Good urban design, in its esthetic sense, can create attractive and interactive public spaces, bring together a streetscape and express the diversity of our civic identity (like the tree grates at River Landing designed with stories from Sioux, Cree and Dakota Elders).

Given that urban design is concerned with continuity between a variety of privately owned lands and structures, a collective vision of the essential qualities of a given area of the city can be powerful. Citizens and businesses can articulate a set of basic urban design guidelines, with assistance from architects and planners, for sectors of downtown, commercial strips, and residential areas. City officials and developers would then have a non-regulatory public document to refer to when working on site plans and design concepts.

With an amendment to the Planning and Development Act 2007, design controls at the site planning level could be a useful tool for our civic officials to propose fine-tuning to safeguard basic community standards for urban design. This could help build a public appetite for infill developments, where citizens now worry that we leave too much of the quality of infill developments open to chance.

A community vision

Is it time to re-engage in a community visioning exercise and consider how we aspire to live in our city, downtown and through to the urban edges? It is logical that as our community values and aspirations change, so do our expectations for the built form of our city.

We should be inspired but not led by examples from other places. Through a process called imagineCalgary: imagination into action, Calgary engaged over 18,000 citizens and many professionals and civic leaders to create a 100-year vision and long-range plan for urban growth and development.

As our contribution to this public debate, the Regional and Urban Planning Program at the University of Saskatchewan will host an all-candidates forum in Fall 2009 where the public can ask city council candidates for their views on issues related to planning and design.

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Saskatoon's urban evolution
Reader responses touch on several common themes
The StarPhoenix February 20, 2009

EDITOR'S NOTE: When we asked our readers to share their personal vision for our city as a followup to our recent four-part series by Calgary architect Richard White on Saskatoon's urban evolution, we were confident they would respond. They did, and we thank them. A broad cross-section of those responses appears below, including the accompanying viewpoint from two U of S professors.

Streetscape character threatened

Much recent development in downtown Saskatoon has been positive, notably the new Farmer's Market, the reuse of boom-time warehouses and the increase in housing in the core. However, our downtown is at a crossroads and risks losing much of its identity as developmental pressures increase, fuelled by the South Downtown redevelopment.

Development interest is already moving west and north from the riverbank, resulting in an empty lot where the Barry Hotel once stood at the entrance to Riversdale, and a proposed office block at the corner of 20th Street and Second Avenue. This pressure will continue to increase and expand.

The challenge will be to preserve our historic streetscapes, while accommodating some appropriate new development. Unfortunately, Saskatoon prefers to look at individual buildings rather than streetscapes, despite the fact that it is the street as a whole that gives us that sense of place that says we are in Saskatoon and nowhere else.

More development is also proposed for Spadina Crescent, driven by the financial needs of our historic riverbank churches. While we sympathize with their situation, it is important that development is sensitive to the riverbank location and to the church buildings themselves.

If downtown Saskatoon is to maintain any of its unique identity, then the city must recognize the value of its historic core and preserve its historic streetscapes by encouraging new development to take place in less sensitive locations and ensure that any infill is sympathetic to its surroundings.

Peggy Sarjeant

Maintain natural beauty

Having moved to Saskatoon a year ago, my favourite part is the natural beauty of the river valley and the bike paths through it. I hope the city maintains the valley in its naturally beautiful state and its recreational uses for walking, skiing, biking, etc.

I do not use the paved park by the Persephone, for example, and am concerned about the concrete river development near the Farmer's Market.

I also believe in a vibrant downtown with high density living, accessible grocery shopping and good public transportation. I love living in Saskatoon and hope we can make public green spaces a priority.

Patty Friesen

The more art the better

I have lived in Saskatoon for more than 25 years and offer a few random thoughts on Saskatoon's development so far:

I applaud the commitment to green spaces within a reasonable walking distance of every home, and the planting of trees in urban spaces. Sadly, our own engineering and electrical departments have a dismal record of tree abuse (i.e. grinder marks on root flares for the sake of levelling sidewalks, or excavators ripping roots).

River Landing seems to be a very good people place and perhaps this sort of thing can be repeated here and there, presumably on a smaller scale. Keeping the majority of river frontage as public property is a victory for our city.

I am not a big box fan. The Wal-Marts of the world are sucking the life out of Mom and Pop stores. I favour density over sprawl, but within reason.

I disdain architectural controls, where every house in a neighbourhood can come in any colour you want, as long as it's beige. I am completely lost as to the wisdom of legislating ghettos, even upper-middle-class ghettos.

The more public art the better. I am not a fan of rusty amorphous blobs of steel, but that doesn't mean it's not art. My two favourite pieces are the fabulous stainless steel abstract at the bottom of the University Bridge, and the double-headed muskox on 20th Street West.

This city has a long way to go toward being a mass-transit, biking and walking kind of place, but I think that would be an excellent focus for us before we get much bigger.

Tony K. Toews

Need to develop green image

Saskatoon has been very well developed so far, but is lacking in specific areas. To create a positive urban image, Saskatoon must eliminate all surface parking lots within the downtown. New architectural standards and guidelines should be established to better reflect the growing city.

Building height restrictions should be raised to 40 storeys. Buildings should be either ultra-modern/post-modern or traditional, or a blend between the two. Anything that leads itself to generic and unstimulating should be exempt from the allowances (stucco, typical box and window).

The city's art placement program has created a diverse and cultural feeling throughout the downtown. I agree that more colourful art would be nice but overall it is fantastic!

My vision of Saskatoon's downtown is to create an urban oasis that is in balance with nature but has a very strong cosmopolitan atmosphere. By doubling the amount of trees and placing boulevards down Third Avenue, First Avenue and Idylwyld (bridge to the new 25th street extension), the city will secure a green image. By removing any above-ground power/telephone lines the city will help create a more urban feel and again secure its position as a green urban oasis.

Kelly Caplette

Public transit most important

As a relative blow-in to Saskatoon -- I moved here from Ireland one year ago -- this is how I see the city:

I think the coolest part of downtown is the art that emblazons otherwise mundane spaces -- from the painted electrical relay boxes full of colour and interest on the corner of every block, to the murals that depict various superheroes/characters on the record shop, to the sign shop in Riversdale with the massive Native design, and the 3-D graffiti on First Avenue.

One slight criticism I have is that some of the newer buildings are very box-like and esthetically unappealing -- built cheaply because of economics at the time. As regards the river walk, I believe the city must be careful to preserve the park-like feel and not cover the riverbank in concrete.

Overall Saskatoon is a clean friendly city; very safe compared to European cities, believe it or not.

Into the future, I would like to see the city spend money making the city a place that people enjoy working and spending time. Investing in a top-class public transport system would be the best infrastructure money Saskatoon ever spent, no matter how much people love their cars. If the planning/construction/spending starts now, the benefits would be incalculable, rather than building Circle Drive 1, Circle Drive 2, Circle Drive 3.

David Nolan

Non-vehicular links critical

I compliment The StarPhoenix on printing a series of articles on urban design and architecture in the Saskatoon context. Richard White correctly points out the importance of the three D's (density, diversity and design quality) in the creation of vibrant urban playgrounds.

However, it is also important that there are good quality linkages to allow people within walking or biking distance to access downtown and related attractions.

I hope that Saskatoon planners will embrace the design opportunities White has identified to create a welcoming and interesting entry image for the downtown. As our community contemplates re-development of the city yards and the building of new connections between Idylwyld Drive, 22nd Street and College Drive, I sincerely hope that there will also be consideration given to more than just cars.

We need effective linkages that use the rail rights-of-way and park spaces to make high quality bicycle and pedestrian connections from core communities to the Meewasin and Trans-Canada Trails.

These non-vehicular links are also extremely important for SIAST and the university. They will work best if there are minimum street conflicts. This kind of planning consideration is a critical part of making Saskatoon an effective urban playground community, as well as a city that truly embraces sustainability.

Charles Olfert
Saskatchewan/Manitoba Regional Director
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada


Higher definitely not better


The article about Jane Jacobs' urban village struck a chord with me. Jacobs was internationally recognized as a wise thinker about building cities that are good to live in and she was not a fan of highrises.

It seems Mayor Don Atchison and Co. feel that "higher is better." In fact, the builders of the planned highrise beside the present police station declared it would be the tallest building in Saskatchewn, as if that is something to be proud of.

I do not want our downtown streets to become sunless canyons. There should be a limit on the height of any new construction. As far as the "wonderful" building planned for the Gathercole site, I can't help but feel that it will turn out to be a blight on our beautiful riverbank, becoming nothing but a private concrete concourse for the wealthy few who can afford the luxury condos.

I love the idea of converting downtown warehouses into condos, because they are using existing buildings which have character, instead of tearing down and building homogeneous concrete towers. The reuse of these buildings as living spaces should help to keep our downtown alive and thriving at all hours.

We definitely need to rethink the direction we are taking with respect to new development.

Paula Drury

Lack of good planning evident


My feeling is that there has been a lack of good planning in Saskatoon.

My likes: University campus (aside from Preston Crossing) and the riverbank (both wild and cultivated). My favourite neighbourhoods are Nutana, not encroached on by condo blocks, and City Park.

Dislikes: Soul-less highrises, retail malls and a transit schedule that is science fiction.

What is missing: Bicycle paths from all points of the city to the downtown; decent transit service; green space; a downtown grocery store.

Suggestions: Renovate vintage brick buildings and develop low-rise row-housing; include courtyards and small parks; effective public transit (a rapid transit system was needed at least a decade ago); improve River Landing (think The Forks, Winnipeg; Granville Island, Vancouver); public art is wonderful but selection should be more egalitarian.

Key developmental focus: Downtown housing; one or two grocery stores; banish the Toys 'R Us/Galaxy Cinemas/Preston-Crossing concept. Acres of asphalt to park on is ridiculous.

My vision: People living and walking around downtown; small outdoor plazas fronted by galleries and cafés; one-of-a-kind shops along south downtown and interspersed with high-density dwellings such as housing along Phoebe Street and Soho Square in Toronto (the amazingly spacious units are narrow, each having a front-door and garden space, not a lobby and elevator); bicycle paths separated from vehicles; preservation of natural waterways like the sloughs around 51st Street; renovate vintage brick buildings (the distillery district in Toronto has capitalized on this concept and revitalized Corktown into a visitor's destination where cafés, live theatre, artist's workshops and galleries abound.

Susan Marles

Downtown vs. big box shopping

I think Saskatoon is on the right track with downtown development, but the city still has a little bit of a multiple personality when it comes to development.

Saskatoon does not yet have the size to have suburban big-box developments and a healthy downtown that can sustain 10,000 or more people. The main reason is that there is only so much retail space that the city can support, and suburbia is cheaper.

The city needs to make the decision on what it wants Saskatoon to be: a city with a lively and sustainable downtown like in Halifax, Montreal or Vancouver, or one with sprawling retail in suburbia and a decaying downtown like many large U.S. cities (Atlanta, Detroit, and many Midwest cities). I don't think we can have both. I would much rather be like Halifax.

Shane Lowenberger

Water park boring

We were really excited when we heard there was going to be a water park at River Landing. After spending every summer in Kelowna, where there is an amazing water park by the lake, we envisioned one like it.

When we took the grandchildren to the one by the river, they took one look and said, "This is boring, let's go home!" Seems the only ones that enjoy it is the under-two age group and the teens chasing around on bikes giving older kids and adults a fright.

Why could we not have water slides, paddling pools, climbing apparatus, etc., to keep the kids entertained for hours, instead of what we now have? Buried canoes that look like coffins! Also more bathroom facilities along our beautiful water walkway would be appreciated.

We have a wonderful place for a real children's water park; let's have something to show for it.

Verna Shoemaker

Ordinary people not heard

I think that Saskatoon is beautiful because of its riverbank and architectural beauties such as the Bessborough. However, opportunities have been missed and much of how it has been developed has been from a basis of money and egos, rather than as an expression of the richness and desires of our people and culture.

My favourite spaces are those that express the nature of our community -- riverbank trails, festivals, cultural spaces, buildings created from local materials.

I am saddened by destruction of heritage and the erection of architecturally numb buildings; and by public consultations strategically positioned to support decisions already made.

We seem to be missing authentic interest in and appreciation for what the creative class and other ordinary people have to contribute. Good leadership is essential -- collaborative visioning, lots of creativity and open minds.

My vision for Saskatoon is that we are well environmentally, spiritually and mentally. That we do not measure abundance in dollar terms but rather by the health of our worldly environment, by our sense of safety and community, by the way we care for our children, and by the opportunities for all to participate in whatever form of recreation, entertainment or career is natural and healthy for us.

Patti Gera

Build world class teepee

Saskatoon needs a tourist attraction. Think of the CN Tower, Eiffel Tower or the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. A giant, shiny teepee is what is needed for south downtown Saskatoon.

Our city is rich in aboriginal history; we would attract more Native interest and tourism. There has been time and money spent on planning a hotel complex for that area already, but it is not too late to change.

The lower level of the teepee would encompass an arena the size of Credit Union Centre, for sports and trade shows. The skirt of the teepee around the arena would contain, condos, shops, a theatre, gallery or two and parking. It could be built close to the river to involve it, too.

In the second section above the arena, there would be a hotel and conference centre with perhaps an area to view the arena below. Above the hotel, a restaurant would be nice and above it a tourist centre, then a lookout. The poles of the teepee would be perfect for elevators.

Brent Northey

Downtown grocer crucial

I've recently moved to the Second Avenue Lofts. It's great being downtown. The only thing missing is a grocery store. The city needs to do something about this if it wants to attract more people downtown.

Also, please get rid of the huge StarPhoenix ad painted on the building on Second Avenue and 23rd street. It's an eyesore and I have to look at it every time I look out my window.

Clarence Krause

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  #17  
Old Posted Feb 23, 2009, 3:03 PM
socialisthorde socialisthorde is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SASKFTW View Post
Cityscape must reflect values of citizens

...

Water park boring

We were really excited when we heard there was going to be a water park at River Landing. After spending every summer in Kelowna, where there is an amazing water park by the lake, we envisioned one like it.

When we took the grandchildren to the one by the river, they took one look and said, "This is boring, let's go home!" Seems the only ones that enjoy it is the under-two age group and the teens chasing around on bikes giving older kids and adults a fright.

Why could we not have water slides, paddling pools, climbing apparatus, etc., to keep the kids entertained for hours, instead of what we now have? Buried canoes that look like coffins! Also more bathroom facilities along our beautiful water walkway would be appreciated.

We have a wonderful place for a real children's water park; let's have something to show for it.

Verna Shoemaker


Source

Great idea Verna; a giant waterslide on prime downtown waterfront. It wouldn't attract those pesky "teenagers", would be much more "attractive", it wouldn't cost much and it would be great for bobsledding in the winter.

I think it is great that people are talking and although I disagree with some of the points, I think that the majority of the comments are at least well though out.

This one (Verna) however, I think is emblamatic of what could hold us back and that is provincial thinking. I use provincial in the broad sense ie. "2. unsophisticated and narrow-minded: unsophisticated and unwilling to accept new ideas or ways of thinking" (c.f. encarta online dictionary).

People here can sometimes get focussed on their own little world without consideration of the broader consequences of their actions or of planning. One example is the near constant whining about snow removal from the same people who complain about civic taxes (I think it is reasonable to complain about one or the other, but we need to recognize that no service comes without cost). Another is the people who bemoan the closing of local bussiness while driving to Preston Landing to shop at Walmart. Yet another example is people who want some particular lifestyle (e.g acreage, small town) and low taxes (remember, most people in rural communities and the exurbs vote conservative, ergo smaller governement & lower taxes), but then want the same amenities as are available in the city (e.g. roads, policing, recreational faccilities, schools; paid for of course by the province).

I get very frustrated with such hypocrisy, and I think I see more of it here than other places I have lived, but am at a loss as to how to address it. Would Verna really want a three story waterslide blocking off the river, so that her grandchildren won't be "bored" (for the few years they will care, before they too become "teens chasing around on bikes giving older kids and adults a fright")?

Theres my Monday morning rant
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Old Posted Feb 23, 2009, 4:03 PM
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So I never thought my terribly written response would make it into the SP. Mine was the one saying need to develop a green image. Well my main point was totally lost and there just was not enough room to allow for proper development of what I was trying to say.

What I was trying to convey is that Saskatoon has lots of positive attribiutes already but unfortunatley they are underutilized or just negelected. One thing everyone knows is that greenery really embelishes a d/t and makes people feel comfortable in it. That's why I had the strong emphasis on greening up the downtown. Another point I was trying to make was to really focus on building density and restoring old buildings to their former glory. A VERY main point I was trying to make is that the architecture MUST be stimulating, innovative and aesthetically pleasing, if council plays things right they can create controls saying this and developers will pay to develop here b/c of the demand, if one starts the rest will follow, and well we have some great developments happening which do fall into these guidlines; riverlanding, rumley, king george, the lighthouse im sure when its final renderings are released will be more polished.

I feel like I'm starting to ramble so I'll cut it off, overall Saskatoon is great and has the potential to create a very strong downtown which in turn will give us a strong urban image. We just need to be a bit more aggressive in planning and development.
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Old Posted Feb 24, 2009, 7:59 PM
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congratulations on getting published kgc087! and kudos for speaking up. I thought you presented your ideas admirably and you nicely balanced an ideal with pragmatic suggestions.

The waterpark complaint and the teepee idea (not that it doesn't sound cool in theory) make your submission seem like true genious, even if you didn't get across exactly what you intended
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Old Posted Mar 14, 2009, 12:58 AM
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We often criticize our elected officials for their decision making and policy positions with regards to our City's growth pattern, but, its appears they have finally caught up with the general sentiment of the electorate. I am encouraged by our Mayor, and Councilors beliefs in Saskatoon's future, and their assurances that our Downtown plays a major role in that future.


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Saskatoon's urban evolution
By Don Atchison; Charlie Clark; Bev Dubois; Myles Heidt; Darren Hill; Pat Lorje
The Star Phoenix March 12, 2009


Converting 21st Street into town square would make downtown memorable
Photograph by: Richard Marjan, The Star Phoenix


EDITOR'S NOTE: In a four-part series on Saskatoon's downtown published by The StarPhoenix in January and February, Calgary-based architect Richard White encouraged the city to "Think BIG and dare to be different in designing this space." Now, it's the turn of the mayor and city councillors, who are in the position to shape and guide the development of Saskatoon, to share their vision for the potential and future of the downtown.

While they agree that a healthy and vibrant downtown is key to maintaining Saskatoon's sense of community, they each have some strong ideas on how to proceed with building on our strengths and making things even better for the future.


Balance growth around heart of city
By Mayor Don Atchison

Downtown is the heart and soul of a community. Opportunities such as those now before us sometimes come only once in a lifetime.

We want to make sure that Saskatoon continues to have a strong, vibrant and healthy downtown, which is key to a healthy city.

Otherwise one ends up with many neighbourhoods without a common vision or goal.

Saskatoon's downtown must remain geographically at the city's centre; therefore balanced growth in all directions is required.

Allowing growth just along the river valley would make for an extremely beautiful city.

However, the cost of maintaining such linear growth would be prohibitive and create several high-density business districts that would not be successful on their own.

What is required is a high-density mixed use of commercial, retail and housing development in the downtown. Without housing, we'd have a city centre invigorated Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, and a ghost town in the after-hours. Downtown needs to be warm, inviting and, above all, safe and secure.

The first goal is to have 10,000 people living in the city centre. We should then set a goal of having a percentage of the city's population living downtown. We currently sit at approximately two per cent, with a far-too-low goal of 3.5 per cent.

If we do not strive for higher density, it won't happen on its own. Some exciting examples of downtown growth are the planned extension of 25th Street, the revitalization of the warehouse district and the adaptive reuse of the King George Hotel and the former Bay.

The downtown must remain the cultural hub, which includes the continuation of art in public places.

With Persephone Theatre relocating downtown, along with many galleries, our citizens have numerous cultural opportunities.

The suburbs have big box retailing while downtown should continue to be the centre of all forums of art. We must hold fast on this very critical issue.

Transportation in the area also must be addressed. We do not want the success of the downtown to discourage people from coming due to inadequate transportation and parking in the area.

We need to make travelling to and around the city centre highly convenient. This must include planning for LRTs, in some form.

River Landing has already contributed to the vitality of our downtown and created a better connection to Riversdale. As the build-out continues on River Landing with the Lake Placid project, the Ecovillage and more residential units west of the Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge, we will continue to see a renaissance in downtown Saskatoon.

Efficient city vibrant, sustainable
By Coun. Charlie Clark

The conversation about the downtown is a conversation about the future of our city.

Skyrocketing costs of maintaining and rebuilding our aging infrastructure have made it clear: We are fooling ourselves if we think we can keep building a sprawling city for the single-occupant vehicle and big backyards, while maintaining reasonable taxes.

Climate change and the end of cheap oil aren't the only drivers for smart growth. Economics is in the mix, too. The good news is that a more efficient city also can be more vibrant, sustainable and inclusive.

Many people agree that a denser, less car-focused city is a good idea, but they don't think we can do it in Saskatoon. Our own past tells a different story.

Saskatoon's original core was built as a medium-high density downtown surrounded by very walkable, mixed-use neighbourhoods such as Nutana, Riversdale and City Park. Regular streetcar services brought people to and from work, shopping and leisure.

We have a great opportunity to build on this original core while limiting sprawl and preserving heritage buildings. The rebirth has begun with the residential renaissance in converted hotels, warehouses and department stores.

There is abundant open land from the city yards right across to River Landing and around 22nd Street and Idylwyld Drive. The Rivergreen Ecovillage is pioneering a model of newly built energy efficient housing.

It's critical to extend green, affordable, attractive and multi-generational housing throughout the downtown. These foster a more efficient transportation system of walking, cycling and transit. Perhaps the streetcar could be returned to anchor the system.

As the meeting place for east-side and west-side, wealthy and poor, newcomer and old-timer, gay and straight, people of all cultures, the downtown is also key to bridging our divides.

Great cities begin with great public centres whose democratic spaces invite the mingling and traffic that create new ideas and help establish common ground.

The Farmer's Market and the water park at River Landing are a beginning; next, I hope, is a vibrant library redevelopment in conjunction with Civic Square.

Culturally rich environments also nurture the "creative communities" that are economic drivers of the future. Success will depend on informed, community-wide discussion.

Our city is filled with thoughtful, entrepreneurial, and compassionate people. As a councillor, I hear more and more from people that this is a critical moment in the conversation.

Now is the time to think and act big to create a vibrant, sustainable and inclusive Saskatoon.

'Outside the box' thinking needed
By Coun. Bev Dubois

In my mind, Saskatoon has always been a unique special city with special people, and will continue to be into the future. It's a great place to live, work and raise a family.

I believe it is very important to link the past, present and future to the things we do, including the development of the city. I also think it is important to think "outside the box" and not do the same old things because that is the way it has always been done.

We do have a strong urban character and it is vital for that to continue for all of the citizens of Saskatoon as well as visitors to be able to enjoy and participate in, and at the same time learn about our history.

I agree with the possibility that our city centre could become the equivalent of a Halifax or Victoria as a place for locals and tourists to "play." It is important to complete River Landing, and when the entire project is done, it will be fantastic! We will continue to enhance what the city already does with public art, streetscape designs and green space.

The new police station, the Third Avenue upgrade and streetscape enhancement as the main entryway from downtown to River Landing will all have a positive effect on the city centre. The new central library will be such a great destination spot for the entire public. It is open and free to everyone and will have amenities and opportunities second to none for a civic public centre.

The issue of inadequate parking needs to be addressed as more and more people frequent downtown. Having said this, I believe in striking a balance for accessibility for pedestrians, transit, cyclists and vehicles. I want to encourage more use of transit as well as cycling as a regular means of transportation, for young and old alike.

We already have the Meewasin Trail, the Farmers' Market and wonderful existing green spaces like Kiwanis Memorial Park and Rotary Park across the river and the River Landing green spaces will complement all of this. The above combined with what River Landing has to offer, plus encouraging unique retail shops and restaurants, and properly planned residential opportunities, downtown Saskatoon will be a vibrant, thriving people place to live, work and play moving into the future.

High density buildings are key
By Coun. Myles Heidt

The one thing about the downtown is that everyone has an opinion about it. It was like that in 1994 when I first got elected, and it's the same today.

It's great that the citizens of this city care what happens to the downtown and want to be part of the decision-making process.

We need a downtown where everyone wants to live or visit and feel safe doing so. We need to ensure we have the proper infrastructure to accommodate traffic, pedestrian and bicycle traffic safely and efficiently.

We will have to change zoning to allow only high density buildings. That will require providing incentives for builders and residents.

We will have to maximize the use of the riverbank, which can be accomplished by expanding the trails and creating a destination centre that will make us all proud. The Farmers' Market is a very good start and will grow as the population does.

I believe a destination center that caters to all segments of society and is affordable to everyone in the community will make us the envy of all cities.

We have a window of opportunity to get started and we can't plan forever. We have to get started immediately. A great example of this is council's decision to proceed with the River Landing. It's in place now and we are proud to take visitors there.

There is much more to come. By infrastructure I also mean affordable, safe housing. People with fewer resources need to be part of our community, too.

Our downtown can be used for some innovated projects to facilitate such much-needed housing. I also see our transit system playing a big part in providing the type of infrastructure required in a vibrant and exciting downtown.

We will need strong leadership to make the tough decisions, as many great ideas will be coming forward on what we should do. We must try to engage as many people as possible in this process to generate a wide range of ideas.

Once this process is complete, we will need a communication plan to get community support and make the downtown the best it can be.

We all want Saskatoon to be a people-friendly place that we want to share with the rest of the world, and ensure it's where we want to raise our families.

Providing access for all important
By Coun. Darren Hill

In every great city, the downtown is where you find its heart. No matter where we live in the city, downtown belongs to all of us.

Saskatoon's downtown is developing into a place for people of all ages, thanks to the efforts of stakeholders from the business, tourism, heritage, cultural and social sectors that have been working together with the city. Our city boasts parks and open spaces, retailers, residences, restaurants, office buildings, public art and multiple venues for arts and entertainment. I think we are headed in the right direction, and I look forward to continuing the momentum to ensure Saskatoon downtown is a magnet that draws us all.

I envision downtown core that has been planned to facilitate access for citizens, including those who wish to use alternative modes of transportation such as bicycles, long boards, Segways, electric scooters and so forth. I am excited about the plans for the new bus mall and potential new programs to encourage more transit use to the downtown core; I believe this is just one step toward access for all.

I would like to ensure that the downtown includes space for all, including transitional housing for those who are new to town, just getting settled, or who need temporary support. I would also like to see the downtown library expanded to support its vital role in our community. Also, I think the addition of a destination centre for the River Landing development is necessary to help celebrate Saskatoon and its people.

We all know that nothing makes a city feel alive more than people on the streets. We see it happening at River Landing, where a whole new downtown history is being created. My hope for Saskatoon is that with increased downtown activity by the expansion of city-wide programs such as festivals, and sporting events, we will be drawn together into the downtown to embrace a sense of community and be warmed by a sense of civic pride.

Develop central gathering place
By Coun. Pat Lorje

Saskatoon is at a crossroads. We are on the verge of becoming a big city and still have the chance to get it right and become a great city.

Unlike other cities that have had explosive population growth and spread out into loosely connected suburbs, Saskatoon has kept the possibility of having a vibrant downtown core. Even complaints about trouble finding a parking spot downtown are, in some odd way, a tribute to the fact that people see our downtown as an important destination.

This didn't happen by accident. Citizen input, work by downtown merchants, lobbying from artists and businesses alike, as well as council decisions for the past 30 years, have all contributed to a sense that downtown is an important, integral part of Saskatoon. I think the key thing missing is a focal downtown gathering point. We need an obvious core, a heart.

We have the riverbank and all the great things happening at River Landing. At the other end, we have City Hall and the possibility of wonderful condominiums in the warehouse district. But these are on the periphery. At the centre, we still need a gathering place. That's what distinguishes great, memorable cities from those that you just pass through. Think of New York, London, Venice, Seattle, San Francisco. What is memorable about them are unique city squares that encourages people to come together for no other reason than just to be in an exciting city centre.

City squares are where children and older people hang out together, where industry and artists meet, where business people and consumers relax. These are places that encourage festivals, celebrations, hope, maybe even protests! They break down barriers and build new acquaintances.

Twenty-First Street could be the natural city square if we dared to make it a people place, and stop thinking the car is king. What if we closed off the street? What if we had a skating rink in the middle of the street in the winter, or built a huge fountain, or planted a small grove of evergreens? What if we put in some benches and dedicated the street to pedestrians?

These things might be just we need to make the downtown a place where people want to gather, to have fun, to shop and play. These are the sorts of features that might work to create a heart in downtown Saskatoon for everyone from all walks of life to claim this city for themselves.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

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Saskatoon's urban evolution
By Maurice Neault; Tiffany Paulsen; Glen Penner; Bob Pringle; Gordon Wyant
The Star Phoenix March 13, 2009


Farmers' Market is an example accessible downtown development that fosters success
Photograph by: SP File Photo by Richard Marjan, The Star Phoenix


EDITOR'S NOTE: In a four-part series on Saskatoon's downtown published by The StarPhoenix in January and February, Calgary-based architect Richard White encouraged the city to "Think BIG and dare to be different in designing this space." Now, it's the turn of the mayor and city councillors, who are in the position to shape and guide the development of Saskatoon, to share their vision for the potential and future of the downtown.

While they agree that a healthy and vibrant downtown is key to maintaining Saskatoon's sense of community, they each have some strong ideas on how to proceed with building on our strengths and making things even better for the future. This is the second of a two-part series.


CREATE ONENESS IN RIVERSDALE, BROADWAY
By Coun. Maurice Neault

The downtown area of Saskatoon to me is 19th Street to 25th Street, and Spadina Crescent to Idylwyld Drive. Within this area are districts: North Downtown, business, residential, warehouse and River Landing.

Saskatoon's downtown must weave these districts together to create a oneness that connects with Riversdale and Broadway.

The downtown area must be functional, clean and safe -- creating traffic patterns that flow safely and efficiently for vehicles, transit, pedestrians and bicycles. Parking is one of the most important aspects.

"Pretty" is nice, but functionality and operational challenges must take precedence. Let us not build a monument to summer weather: downtown must work for the city all 12 months of the year.

As the southern anchor of downtown, River Landing is doing what it was designed to do. With private and public investment, River Landing will continue to move forward. The challenge will be to create the destination that will draw people to this area year-round.

The Persephone Theatre is wonderful. The Live-Work Village concept will work well, reaching into Riversdale. The private sector development (hotel, condos, commercial) is a great addition.

As for the destination centre, I feel that the Mendel Art Gallery, operated and funded by the citizens of Saskatoon, should be located next to Persephone Theatre, along with a discovery centre for music. As taxpayers, we can only afford to operate one cultural centre, not two.

Budgets for development must be balanced for all the downtown areas -- by putting all of our money in one area, we lose the opportunity to create the essence of oneness throughout the downtown.

ACCESSIBILITY MUST BE FOUNDATION
By Coun. Tiffany Paulsen

In Saskatoon, the words "South Downtown" have become synonymous with "jewel", "heart" and "gem". Unfortunately, the words "controversy", "disagreement" and "conflict" also surface.

The question that has been put to city councillors is: What is your vision of South Downtown? It would be easy to spout the mantra -- "people place", "gathering spot" or "destination centre."

However, the real question is not the what, but the how. How does city council capture the pride and passion attached to South Downtown and create a world class development that respects the environment, honours our history and celebrates our accomplishments and culture?

One may argue that the goal is too lofty. However, I would argue that the development thus far has already achieved that goal; a fantastic Farmers' Market, a stunning riverbank park, an exceptional free stage, Persephone Theatre, the list goes on.

How do we continue our success? One of the obvious themes from the projects is that the venues are all accessible to the public in one form or another. From my perspective, public accessibility must be the foundation upon which anything is built in River Landing.

That accessibility comes in many forms. It's not just physical or financial, but also encompasses a desire to truly access a place. If no one wants to work, live or play at River Landing, the time and taxpayer dollars spent will have been wasted. There needs to be serious reflection on what the citizens of Saskatoon value and how to place that value into River Landing.

Again, back to the question posed. Features I find valuable in a public gathering place are green space (lots of it!), sunlight, cleanliness, safety, a river view, unique street-front shops and cafes, as well as interesting performances on the free stage.

While I am not generally opposed to tall buildings, we must be careful not to build something that simply creates wind tunnels and blocks the sun. Cold winters are an inescapable reality in Saskatoon.

There is a need to build structures that are architecturally sensitive, not just from a beauty perspective, but are climate and weather appropriate as well.

There is not one right answer as to what should be built at River Landing. I do know it is critical for the decision makers to listen to the ideas, proposals and concepts from the citizens of Saskatoon to continue the success that has already begun!

ENSURING PUBLIC SAFETY INTEGRAL TO SUCCESS
By Coun. Glen Penner

A decade ago, our downtown was uninviting and cold, river access was virtually impossible, and parking was not a problem.

Today, River Landing provides access to the river valley and links Friendship Park to Victoria Park. The Farmers' Market has a permanent home, with 19th Street being upgraded to provide a more positive link from downtown to Riversdale. Persephone Theatre is part of River Landing and Block 146 has been developed. The long-awaited Lake Placid Development will be underway soon.

The entire life of the south downtown has been rejuvenated, and to find a parking place is no longer easy.

I have supported all of this development and believe that the seeds have been sown for more downtown growth. Redeveloping the King George Hotel, the Bay building and the warehouse district into housing will help achieve our goal of having more people living downtown. This is important because as the city grows, we should not "just spread out." We need to make our inner city neighbourhoods and the downtown attractive for development. We need to better utilize our existing infrastructure. Building "up" downtown is essential.

The Third Avenue streetscaping will add immeasurably to the continued vitality of the downtown and a revamped bus mall will keep the city centre as a transit hub.

Saskatoon has one of the highest rates of bicycle use in the country despite our climate.

Continued focus on this type of travel -- in and out of downtown is important for many reasons and this is one of the reasons the Third Avenue restructuring is appealing. Part of the reason our downtown is so vibrant day and night is that we tend to feel safe as we move about. I suppose there is a feeling of safety in numbers. Whatever the reason, keeping our downtown safe is an integral part of our future potential growth.

Cities have become the economic engines of Canada. For growth to continue in a positive manner, we will need to rely on more than property tax to keep the economic engine running.

Property tax is a regressive tax, but unfortunately it's the only one at the city's disposal. As we move forward to meet our potential, sustainable and predictable revenue sources are required. I am confident this will happen and I am confident in our potential for growth as a city and as an exciting, vibrant downtown.

DOWNTOWN MUST BE DAY-NIGHT DESTINATION
By Coun. Bob Pringle

Downtown Saskatoon should be a place where we all want to come -- to live or work, shop, dine, learn and gather and experience its beauty. It should be economically vibrant, affordable, fully accessible, welcoming and safe.

A group of young people recently told me they want public engagement in River Landing and core area development. They desire more benches and public washrooms, dark-sky lighting, art displays, green spaces, important cultural symbols, festivals, entertainment, cycling paths and many small businesses. The Mendel Art Gallery and the Public Library have relatively high visitors/members because they are accessible -- both by location and affordability. This is not the case in every city in Canada.

The youth also would like to see a general grocery store -- a common concern among many who reside downtown.

Those of us who do not live downtown need to be able to get there safely when the need or desire arises. Our transit ridership is increasing significantly, which is positive. Some of us may need to drive, and the city has plans for additional parking spaces.

Saskatoon enjoys the second highest per capita rate of cyclists in Canada and the city has plans to provide greater road safety for this environmentally responsible practice. Fundamentally, our businesses have to be doing well for our downtown to thrive, and the signs here are generally very positive.

Many people tell me they like to sit outside at quaint coffee and eatery places: around food is always a great place to socialize. We should continue to plan and design gathering places for children close to the river, and these will become family places. (eg: Kinsmen rides). Additional murals on "character buildings" would brighten up the downtown and, at the same time, display the creative talent of our artists.

Regardless of how we get to downtown, a vibrant city ensures that its citizens want to be there on both evenings and weekends, as well as during the workday. While downtown needs to be a desirable destination, we must ensure that all areas of Saskatoon are appealing and vibrant -- the two are connected. Our entire community should be a desirable place, where all citizens can participate in the life of our community in a meaningful way.

CREATING DESTINATION CENTRE IMPORTANT
By Coun. Gordon Wyant

Downtown historically has been the heart of Saskatoon. However, as the city has grown, we have seen some traditional downtown amenities move to the suburban areas, which tends to create a vacuum of sorts in the downtown.

There is no question that the downtown has retained its character as the location for the majority of office space. The challenge for planners and council is to sustain an agenda that serves to revitalize the downtown, recognizing the strategic importance of the area to the city as a whole. We see examples across North America where downtowns have been neglected and we hear about the issues that arise when a vacuum is created in the middle of a community.

The key to a successful downtown is to create a destination; a place where people want to go not only to work in the daytime but to have fun in the evening. Council's strategy to bring more residents to the downtown is one important way of bringing more vitality to the area. This strategy will also ensure the return of some amenities that have been lost from the downtown, which I envision will include a grocery store.

In addition, projects such as the River Landing help support the vision of the downtown becoming a destination for all residents. The Landing helps create a vibrant downtown and also serves as a bridge between communities.

Augmenting this project is the Persephone and Galaxy Theatres and ultimately, a destination centre and hotel project that will help ensure there will be activity for much of the day, helping to support a renewed sense of community in the downtown core.

As a city, we have come a long way with our downtown. However, more work needs to be done. It's also of utmost importance to develop policies that will ensure the downtown continues its growth as a destination through innovative housing and development initiatives.

Our downtown is fast becoming the envy of many Canadian cities. We should all be very proud of it.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

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