Councillors heard concerns from community members about the future of 33rd Street at a meeting of the city`s transportation committee on Tuesday.
The committee reviewed an administration report recommending several upgrades to sidewalks and crosswalks along 33rd Street West between Avenue B and Avenue G. The document, the 33rd Street Corridor Report, came with a recommendation that it be adopted as a framework for future traffic improvements in the area.
Anna Cole, president of the Hudson Bay Park, Mayfair and Kelsey-Woodlawn Community Association, told the committee people are thrilled with the idea of improvements for pedestrians.
But Cole said they are still waiting for a firm commitment from the city not to widen the stretch of road to 4 lanes. The report before the transportation committee was silent on the issue, deferring it to the citywide Growth Plan to Half a Million due to be completed in the coming months.
“I just want them to remember that 33rd Street as it is is a main street with local businesses that support the local economy. If we turn it into four lanes of traffic, it will become four lanes of traffic. It will become Idylwyld Drive or 22nd Street, where you drive by but you don`t stop,” Cole said.
James Scott also addressed the committee. He explained that his family has roots in the Caswell Hill area stretching back about 100 years. He said he`s seeing signs of positive change in the community.
“33rd Street is on the cusp of turning around and becoming a really vibrant, pleasant business district,” he said.
Scott said he worried that pressure to add lanes and make 33rd Street a major thoroughfare for people from new communities further west would undo the progress in the area.
“It will really harm any sort of businesses. It will hurt the whole street. It will basically destroy it,” he said.
Scott echoed the call for a longer term promise to leave the road at two lanes in the business district. He said he was happy with the response he got from the committee, as councillors Darren Hill, Pat Lorje and Troy Davies all expressed their support for the 33rd Street business district.
But he said that, having lived in the community for so long, he felt it was important to remain vigilant on the issue.
“When you have a history going back decades and decades of having more and more traffic pressures on (33rd Street), it’s going to take a long time to overcome that, to get faith and trust in the city that it will nurture that area and try and foster a better community and business environment there,” he said.
The last round of community consultations for the city’s Growth Plan to Half a Million begins Oct. 14 and runs until Nov. 8. The City of Saskatoon has more information online.