Saskatoon lays out plan for core neighbourhoods
Mix of old and new ideas
The city of Saskatoon wants to hear from people who live in the Pleasant Hill, Riversdale and West Industrial neighbourhoods.
The city wants to rejuvenate the area. Its plan is called "The Junction Improvement Strategy."
Alan Wallace is Saskatoon's manager of planning and development. He says the city wants to encourage at least 70,000 more people to move to core neighbourhoods, as it plans for Saskatoon's population to swell to 500,000 people within two decades.
"What we need to do is set the stage, make improvements as needed," said Wallace. "Make sure that these areas are areas that are feasible, that people find them desirable, they're liveable, they offer high quality of life."
More pedestrian traffic than other areas
The "Junction" would include parts of Riversdale, Pleasant Hill, and West Industrial neighbourhoods, anchored by St. Paul's Hospital, Avenue H South, and 20th Street West. All three areas are bisected by Canadian Pacific railway tracks.
Pedestrian traffic is higher in these neighbourhoods than in most other parts of the city.
Wallace said residents have already asked the city to establish a safe, permanent footpath with hard surfaces, fencing, and lighting along the CPR railway tracks. Although it's illegal, hundreds of people use a well-established dirt trail next to the tracks to walk to and from downtown.
"There's a lot of redevelopment happening, but independently. So what we wanted to do is tie these things together," said Wallace.
The Junction plan calls for a mix of old and new development plans. A new leisure centre is under consideration, as well as a communal housing project.
Lingering perception problems
The City of Saskatoon wants to phase out industrial zoning in the area, reclaim contaminated sites, and tidy vacant and unsightly properties.
But Wallace admits after decades of neglect, Saskatoon's core west-side neighbourhoods still carry the stigma of being hotbeds of criminal activity and poverty.
"Crime statistics that we've found are fairly uniform right across the city" he said. "It's more of a perception than actual reality. There's always different types of crimes of course but what we find is that by improving and paying attention to the public realm improvements is that we change change people's perceptions of an area."
"It's such a shame to see that perception but I think attitudes are going to change around that area. It's a very active, vibrant area. There's lots going for it."