Saskatoon

Professor says smart growth the answer to Saskatoon's road problems

A city planning professor at the University of Saskatchewan has an innovative solution to Saskatoon's road issues.

Avi Akkerman wants to see limits to Saskatoon's growth

In a recent poll, 23 percent of people said Saskatoon's roads were the most important municipal election issue (CBC News)

A city planning professor at the University of Saskatchewan has an innovative solution to Saskatoon's road issues.

In a recent poll, 23 per cent of people thought the condition of the city's roads was the top issue in this year's civic election campaign.

While Avi Akkerman isn't surprised by that, he said the ultimate solution to the problem isn't fixing more potholes. It's making sure that the city stops growing outward.

"What we should be doing is declaring an urban growth boundary around the city," he told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "I'm not saying specifically where that boundary should go, but we should be discussing an urban growth boundary beyond which development should be discouraged."

Akkerman says as new neighbourhoods continue to spring up, costs continue to grow for taxpayers. That means there are fewer resources to repair and replace infrastructure, especially aging infrastructure in the inner city.

"We have been sprawling for the last 50, 60, 70 years," he said. "Quite obviously, when we expand geographically, the costs grow exponentially."

While Akkerman doesn't believe the solution is to put everyone in high-rise towers, he says it's important to be more careful to use the space that we currently take up.

"Suburban sprawl is a universal problem across North America," he said. "We cannot start putting up new overpasses and new sections of freeways, and still expect that we will have money to maintain the old infrastructure that is breaking down."

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