Saskatoon

Concept plan for nearly $13M outdoor festival site gets approval from Saskatoon city council

The city can now put out the tender for Phase 1 of the project, which would include the creation of an entry bosque area, as well as a festival headquarters building and studies to deal with the more complicated parts of the project.

City can now put out tender for phase one of project

A rendering of what part of the site could potentially look like. The stage is not permanent. (City of Saskatoon)

Saskatoon city council is moving ahead on a proposed permanent outdoor festival site. 

A feasibility study was accepted by council as information and the concept plan was approved.

The city can now put out the tender for Phase 1 of the project, which would include the creation of an entry area surrounded by a gallery of trees and plants, as well as a festival headquarters building. Phase 1 also includes studies to deal with the more complicated parts of the project.

The total cost of the project is $12.85 million.

The site will be built at Friendship Park and River Landing Park between the Broadway Bridge and the River Landing spray park and divided into three zones, "demarcated by two iconic Saskatoon bridges: the Traffic Bridge and the Broadway Bridge," the concept plan says.

"The central zone, located in Friendship Park, provides a large Main Stage Plaza and viewing area designed to accommodate large festival and events," with capacity for 7,500-person events, it says.

There will also be "supporting festival and event programming opportunities extending north and south into River Landing Park 1 and under the Broadway Bridge into Kiwanis Memorial Park South," the plan says.

A rendering of what the site could look like in the future. (City of Saskatoon)

There will not be a permanent stage on-site, but a base will be installed to make festival setups easier. Heritage aspects in Friendship Park will be protected, the most recognizable of them likely being the Gabriel Dumont statue. 

"The flexibility of this site allows for multiple uses and multiple sizes of festivals," said Andrew Roberts, director of recreation and community development with the city. "That was one key component in the study."

The plan includes a realignment of Spadina Crescent allowing Friendship Park to expand, giving the site its 7,500-person capacity. 

"The intent is to create the plaza area that would allow the park to function as a park when not in use for a special event."

This concept has been discussed in Saskatoon for years. In 2019, parks officials raised the alarm about the health of Kiwanis Park near the Bessborough Hotel, which had become heavily damaged after years of festival use.

The new permanent facilities would give festivals a place to set up in the city without damaging the Meewasin Valley park system.

With files from David Sheild

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