City bid to stall development 'hard thing to swallow'

By Phil Tank, The StarPhoenix September 26, 2013 - The City of Saskatoon and the Rural Municipality of Corman Park are eyeing the same areas for growth.

The conflict has prompted the city to ask the province to defer a request for zoning changes by the RM in areas where Corman Park's desire to develop is now at odds with the city's proposed regional growth plan to accommodate one million or more people.

The city wants to defer for up to two years the request by the RM to change its official community plan and zoning bylaw, which would, according to the city, allow for the development of up to six homes on each quarter section of land.

The request would only pertain to areas within the regional growth study area, which extends mainly to the north of the Saskatoon but is about twice the size of current city boundaries.

"We were not really consulted on that study area at all," Corman Park Reeve Judy Harwood said Wednesday. "We do have some concerns, but we're certainly willing to work with the city."

Harwood said the request to postpone development is a "hard thing to swallow" during a period of economic boom.

"I think there needs to be a few more players at the table," Harwood said, adding she was surprised by both the size and shape of the study area when it was released this summer.

But Saskatoon city manager Murray Totland said the boundaries are "really just a starting point" for discussion between the city and its regional partners about the shape of growth over the next 50 years.

"All we've asked for from the ministry is some time," Totland said. "Development under the existing zoning can still occur."

Totland said if regional planning is done right in the Saskatoon area, it could serve as a model for the rest of the province or even the country.

Corman Park administrator Adam Tittemore said the RM council has drafted a response to Totland's Sept. 6 letter to the provincial Ministry of Government Relations. Tittemore said he does not want to release the response to the media until it has reached its recipients.

In an email on Wednesday, a ministry officials said it was not appropriate to comment on the matter, but that a decision would be made in the next few weeks.

Tittemore said the RM understands the need for urban municipalities like Saskatoon, Martensville, Osler and Warman - all of which lie within Corman Park boundaries - to grow.

He said the RM council's chief concern is with the size of the study area Saskatoon has outlined for future growth, since 40 per cent of it lies within the RM.

The letter from Totland says there are no objections to proposed RM zoning changes to accommodate development outside the study area boundaries.

Tittemore said the RM is continuing to talk with the urban municipalities within its borders and with the province.

Between 2006 and 2011, many of the municipalities within Corman Park's borders experienced substantial population growth, including: Saskatoon (9.8 per cent), Martensville (55 per cent), Warman (48.5 per cent) and Osler (17.5 per cent).

During the same period, the population of Corman Park grew by a meagre 1.1 per cent to 8,354.

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