Mayor calls for more certainty in wake of infill condo debate
Posted on November 22, 2017 in Business
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark wants more clarity for homeowners and developers when it comes to the potential for infill projects.
Clark made the comment Tuesday at a North Saskatoon Business Association luncheon a day after city council granted approval for a seven-storey condominium building in the Nutana neighbourhood.
Council unanimously backed the project despite the appearance of widespread opposition in the neighbourhood. Clark suggested the project was so divisive because uncertainty exists around infill development for both developers and residents.
“That unpredictability creates barriers for development,” he told the crowd at Prairieland Park. “We’re working hard on that to create more certainty.”
The 45-unit condo tower got city hall approval in part because it’s located a block from Broadway Avenue, which has been identified as one of the streets to be used for the city’s planned bus rapid transit (BRT) route.
Corridors along the BRT route have been targeted for more dense population growth. Council also passed a motion Monday by Ward 6 Coun. Cynthia Block to identify areas for corridor growth and consult with residents in those areas.
Clark also told the business crowd city hall is working to remove red tape for developers and favours a more collaborative approach.
After more than a year in office, social issues remain a priority for him, he said. Concern for the city’s disadvantaged should be shared by the business community, he added, noting the value of lost productivity when youth enter the criminal justice system.
He cited a 2012 study by the City of Saskatoon’s safe streets commission that determined that 23 chronically homeless people used $2.8 million in public services over the course of a year, including ambulances, emergency health care and police time and detention.
“I believe the system the way it is right now is not working,” he said.
Clark responded to questions from a host at the luncheon event and also fielded questions from the audience.
In response to one question, he said a city report on ride-sharing networks like Uber and Lyft is expected in several weeks. The provincial government has announced it will help accommodate municipalities who want to allow ride-sharing.
“I expect we’ll see ride-sharing here in 2018 in Saskatoon,” he said.
Clark also noted the city has some big roles to fill — specifically, a replacement for retired police chief Clive Weighill and for outgoing city manager Murray Totland.
“We want leaders who are able to adapt to changing times,” Clark said.
Despite a “divisive and hard-fought” 2016 election that replaced longtime mayor Don Atchison with Clark, the new mayor said he has sensed a willingness by Saskatoon to give himself and the new city council a chance.