Martensville faces challenges as city grows at rapid pace

By Jessica Brown, Global News, February 6, 2014 - MARTENSVILLE, Sask. - The City of Martensville has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years and is considered the fastest growing city in western Canada. Since 2007, the population has more than doubled and today is nearing 9,000 people.

“The fact that it’s close to Saskatoon, close to the north end, housing options, there’s lots of variations in prices and options for people to choose,” said Mayor Kent Muench.

And it’s proving to be a cash cow for investors.

Seven years ago Prairie North Developments bought farmland on the outskirts of the city for $25,000 an acre; they’re now selling it to big name retailers for as much as $550,000 an acre.

The latest retail giant to join the ranks will be Canadian Tire.

“As this region has grown, as Saskatoon’s grown, people are looking for more services close to where they live, so Martensville, whereas they used to be under served, we’re starting to catch up a little bit.” said City Manager of Economic Development Dillon Shewchuk.

Martensville is moving ahead fast, with a new hotel, strip malls and fast food chains like Dairy Queen and Taco Time popping up recently.

Lake Vista is the latest land development east of the city and will house 3,000 more residents.

The city is getting so big it has now outgrown its own waste water treatment facilities and water supply, that’s why it’s now in negotiations with the City of Saskatoon to tap into its treatment plant.

“We’re in need of expanding our waste water treatment facility and Saskatoon already has one, like one of the best ones in Canada, so it makes more sense to connect with theirs rather than creating, building our own 10 kilometres away,” Muench said.

The two cities have entered a memorandum of understanding.

“Basically it’s an agreement to agree,” said Randy Grauer, City of Saskatoon Community Services Department General Manager.

“Saskatoon residents will not be subsidising those in Martensville, we’re proposing the rates will be negotiated on the basis of Martensville customers paying a premium on top of what Saskatoon users pay,” he said.

The deal would be renegotiated once Martensville reaches 20,000 people, which is predicted by 2021 or 2022.

The proposal goes before council on Monday.

As for the future, the City of Martensville is planning for “smart” growth.

“We definitely want to keep that rural feel, Martensville does have a different feeling from living in Saskatoon and people welcome that and I think they would like to see that continue,” Shewchuk said.

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