Mayor talks transportation, taxes and population for 2014

Mayor Don Atchison says the City plans to bring 35,000 people into the downtown core in coming years to curb urban sprawl.

Atchison tells Saskatoon Morning that managing the city's growth is a challenge

Don Atchison says roads and housing are two issues for the coming year. (CBC)

Roads and managing population growth will top the civic agenda for 2014, says Mayor Don Atchison in an interview with CBC's Saskatoon Morning. 

City council approved a seven per cent tax hike for this year. Atchison said that the money is needed to keep pace with infrastructure needs.

"You think of the budget for the next three years, it's exceedingly ambitious to do about 489 lane kilometres of roadway," he said.

At the same time, the city is trying to manage the continuing of influx of people into the city. The latest forecast will see a population of 269,000 by 2017 -- and more than a half million by 2032.

"People need safe and secure housing to live in, and if you haven't got safe and secure housing it's difficult to have people to move to your community," Atchison said.

Atchison says attracting more people to the downtown centre is one way the city wants to manage the growth. The so-called infill housing is one way to take the pressure of servicing new neighbourhoods.

"It's truly exciting when you think about 35,000 people living in the city centre area. Talk about urban sprawl --what a wonderful way not to have urban sprawl," he said.