November 1, 2022 Message to the Membership

Posted on November 1, 2022 in

November 1, 2022 Message to the Membership

Those of you keeping track may have noticed that I skipped last week’s Message to the Membership. Reason being, I was away on holidays, or should I say was away doing some honky tonkin’ in good ol’ Nashville, Tennessee, in the YOUnited States of ‘Murrica (no disrespect intended, just an attempt to imitate and/or enunciate like those fine, friendly folks of Tennessee). You know… y’all. 

And what a trip it was! I learned several things that are both business-worthy and note-worthy to share with you. First up, Tennessee is one of just eight states without a state income tax, and by virtue of their low property and sales tax, has the lowest overall tax burden of the main 48, with only Alaska having a lower overall tax burden in all of the U. S of A. 

So what’s the benefit of that, you may ask. Well, the city of Nashville, which has a current population of about 712,000 (or roughly double that of Saskatoon’s CMA) has no less than 39 (Thirty Nine!) cranes in its downtown, and they have another 20 empty sites waiting for some more to show up. 

It seems this no-tax thing has caught on with companies like Amazon (you may have heard of them), who are building two office towers for their soon-to-be 5,000 employees in downtown Nashville. And a developer is adding another three neighbouring residential towers to accommodate those employees. Yep, five towers for one company. Oh and as an aside, there’s no parking in these residential towers. 

Other companies like Oracle, Dell and Lyft (do you see a trend here?) are also relocating to Nashville. It can’t be that they’re all country music fans.  

Indeed, there must be something else to this phenomenon. And believe me, it is phenomenal to see it. I was even taking pictures of these cranes, they’re so phenomenal. I think the most I got in one shot was 13 (you see they have other high rises that obscure your vision from seeing all 39 of them at once). 

One tour guide made a joke that the construction crane was going to be the new official state bird. Wah wah. 

The other thing that captured my attention was the transportation infrastructure. Uber and Lyft drivers were everywhere. They outnumbered the taxi’s by about 20 to one by my anecdotal guesstimate. Pedestrians and these e-scooters were everywhere as well. Privately operated tour buses were lined up, while public city buses ran virtually empty. (Hmmm…) 

We did lots of walking. And we weren’t alone. A lot of people did a lot of walking. So many that Nashville’s downtown has to give some consideration to some reconfiguration in the future. The sidewalks simply aren’t wide enough for the amount of people on them.  

As these new office buildings and high-rise apartments come online, surely something will have to give. And methinks it will be a traffic lane that will be sacrificed for more pedestrian accommodation. Blasphemy you say! (At least the almost non-existent cyclists weren’t given their own lane.) 

Oh and did I mention we were at a sold-out concert at the Bridgestone Centre, home to the Nashville Predators, right in the heart of downtown Nashville? Well we were, and we witnessed the thousands of people, come out and begin to infiltrate the neighbouring bars and restaurants. It was almost like it was a market test for a yet-to-be-tried downtown event and entertainment district concept.  

Oh wait, it wasn’t a test. It’s actually a tried and true method for many downtowns across North America. Some, like Nashville, have an NHL team. Others, like Hamilton, do not. I raise all of this because we’re in the midst of this debate over where a proposed facility should be built in downtown Saskatoon. Some are still of the mindset that it shouldn’t be built at all. And good for them, particularly if they’re trying to watch the pennies of the taxpayer.  

But if their opposition stems from simply a desire to keep things status quo, then I have to take issue with this. Because we can be and do so much more. But it’s going to take some big-time and big-city thinking in order to do it. And some of us don’t want Saskatoon to grow. Well, if you’re not growing, you’re dying, and I know which scenario I prefer for my Saskatoon. 

Oh and did I mention that I was among the tens of thousands of people who walked upon the walking bridge following a Tennessee Titans victory? But that’s a story for another day. Even I don’t think we’re ready for that! 

Until next time, be safe, be smart, be considerate, be well, but most of all, be kind. 

 Keith Moen 

Executive Director 

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