City outlines plans to improve transit, increase population in core areas

By Charles Hamilton, The StarPhoenix, February 25, 2014 - Saskatoon city planners want to know what people think about the city’s future.

City staff on Tuesday hosted the first public meeting outlining ambitious plans to improve transit and get more people living in the city’s core.

Transit has long been a focus of frustration in the city and the public meeting was no different.

“If this is all you’ve experienced of a bus system, you would be kind of cynical and doubtful that buses could be efficient,” said Terri Lynn Paulson, one member of the public in attendance.

Paulson and others were given a detailed look at the city’s plans for bus rapid transit system, which would see more buses coming more frequently down major corridors.

The BRT system would have three major routes—College Drive, Eighth Street and 22nd Street—on which newly-designed buses would travel every few minutes. Other buses from surrounding residential neighborhoods would feed into those routes.

“The basic tenant of getting more people to use transit is making it more enjoyable experience,” John Steiner, the lead consultant with Urban Systems, told the crowd.

The public meeting was a part of a city-wide initiative dubbed as ‘Growing Forward! Shaping Saskatoon.’ The ideas being discussed are to address issues surrounding rapid population growth – the city hopes to hit a population of 500,000 in the next three to four decades.

Transit wasn’t the only ambitious plan on display at Tuesday’s meeting. Steiner also said the city is looking for input on the possibility of another core bridge, as well as ways to improve density along major corridors.

Three years ago, the city undertook an initiative called Saskatoon Speaks to get input on the city's future from thousands of people. City officials now say that process is over, and it's time to set the course for Saskatoon's growth.

Another public meeting was scheduled to be held Tuesday from 6-9 p.m.

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