How will Saskatoon and its surrounding region look in 60 years?
That’s the question the city and its neighbours are trying to answer with a long-term development plan.
“We need to get together to plan for growth, otherwise we’re going to have urban sprawl,” said Alex Fallon, CEO of Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority.
Saskatoon, Warman, Martensville, Osler and Corman Park are working together to develop the partnership for growth plan. It’ll manage population increases over the next 40 to 60 years, when the region is expected to reach one million people.
“It really looks at what’s the best way to grow in a manageable way across the region,” Fallon said.
The preliminary land use plan was unveiled at an open house at Wanuskewin Heritage Park Tuesday. It includes expansion of Saskatoon’s city limits and the potential for expanding the international airport. It also includes provisions to protect First Nations and agricultural land in the region.
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark told 650 CKOM’s Brent Loucks Tuesday the plan will help the city avoid the reality it faces in the south – where further urban growth is hindered by previous developments.
“Half-hazard growth where we start building country residential areas and industrial parks – that would be very hard to grow into,” Clark explained.
More than 200 people came out to review the potential boundaries and changes in land designations.
Val Falkenberg, who owns 80 acres of land within the plan’s perimeter, was frustrated with some of the plans.
“We’ve been wanting to subdivide for 10 years,” she said. “Now we’re in a restricted area (according to this plan) and we’re limited in what we can sell, who we can sell it to and for how much.”
Falkenberg said she needs more answers on how the land can be re-zoned under the plan.
Public consultation will close in April, with votes being held in each community after.
Avoiding amalgamation fight
The co-ordinated strategy is also an effort to prevent the mess of amalgamation between the cities and towns involved.
“I imagine many many years down the road we’ll be amalgamated,” said Martensville Coun. Debbie McGuire.
“But how can one region just say they’re taking over? Why fight, when we can work together?”
The projected boundaries for the year 2077 still maintain Martensville and Warman as separate entities, though their borders are set to be closer as both communities grow.
McGuire and Fallon noted the co-ordination will help the region maintain its identity while adjusting to larger populations.
Before the partnership for growth plan can begin to be implemented, each council has to approve the structure.