Mayor Atchison calls for more downtown development, grocery store

Reported by François Biber, NewTalk 650 CKOM, April 3, 2014 - Bold plans for Saskatoon lined Mayor Don Atchison’s State of the City address Wednesday.The mayor spoke about plans to build downtown’s density up to 35,000 people with mixed use high-rises and condo developments.

“All I can tell you is in order to have density we have to go up we certainly don’t want to have urban sprawl. If we continue to grow as we are and we have a plan right now for the city to grow to 500,000 people we need to be able to have tall buildings in our downtown as well,” Atchison said.

Atchison also called for a city centre grocery store. He even went as far as saying the city would extend a tax abatement of at least five years to the first grocer that moves downtown.

“An abatement has to be more than five years, I don’t know exactly how long but we need to encourage someone to be first, whoever comes second that’s too bad for them. Whoever wants to be there first one to move downtown they should be rewarded,” he said.

After celebrating the opening of Circle Drive South, the mayor addressed the next river-crossing projects, the North Commuter Parkway Project which is actually two bridges built into one project. Slated at $250 million, the project is currently under review from P3 Canada to see if the federal government will help with $60 million for the North Commuter and Traffic Bridges.

“It’s going to be a game-changer,” Atchison said, adding the long backups in the north end and industrial areas of Saskatoon will get a life-saver in the form of another river crossing.

Moving ahead with the regional growth plan, the City of Saskatoon will soon publish a report drawing land-uses within the encompassing region of Saskatoon, Corman Park, and up to Martensville, Warman and Osler.

“It’s about growth and how the city is going to grow and what direction we’re headed in,” Atchison said.

“It’s about where industries should be, what Saskatoon is all about, is it residential, heavy industrial or other industries where should they be located and that’s some of the discussions that will be ongoing.”

A strong and wealthy middle class was also mentioned in the mayor’s 23 minute speech. He added how the City of Saskatoon plans on building 500 affordable unites each year for the next 10 years under their attainable-housing plan.

“A strong middle class usually equates to having a lot of attainable housing so that’s what we’re pushing for,” he said.

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