Saskatoon's Broadway District businesses question bus rapid transit plan

The idea of using Broadway Avenue as one of the routes for a new bus rapid transit system in Saskatoon is raising some eyebrows.

Merchants want rapid transit to give, not take away

The Broadway Business Improvement District says some merchants are worried about Saskatoon's plan to bring bus rapid transit to the trendy shopping district. (City of Saskatoon)

The idea of using Broadway Avenue as one of the routes for a new bus rapid transit system in Saskatoon is raising some eyebrows.

"There are a lot of opinions to reconcile," said the Broadway Business Improvement District executive director DeeAnn Mercier, in an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

The new system consists of three major lines. City councillors have approved the roughly $120-million project, which could begin construction as early as 2019.

"Some people are excited about that opportunity," she said.

Keep the trees, keep the character and keep the charm.- DeeAnn Mercier, Broadway Business Improvement District executive director

Others are more skeptical, said Mercier.

There is some concern about losing valuable parking spots in an area where shop owners pay the highest rental rates in the city.

Others worry the project could rob Broadway Avenue of its most attractive attributes. Mercier said the message from many Broadway lovers is clear: "Keep the trees, keep the character and keep the charm."

Mercier said the city has engaged her members and the community association on the project. In fact, many have offered alternative route ideas, such as moving the buses over to Victoria Avenue, but keeping the station at Broadway Avenue and Main Street.

"Does the bus bring the business or the people getting on and off?"

DeeAnn Mercier is working with merchants to make sure their concerns are heard as Saskatoon moves forward with bus rapid transit. (CBC)

It's just one of many questions the merchants of Broadway Avenue and people who live in Nutana will be trying to get answered as the city moves forward with bus rapid transit, a plan that's designed to make the system more efficient and more desirable.  

"It's going to be a big change and people may or may not embrace that change," said Mercier, "but I think I have confidence they will and people will embrace alternatives."

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning