With artistic illustrations revealed Monday, the public has its first look at what a future event centre/arena could look like at either of two potential Downtown locations and now City Council wants to hear from residents, businesses and other community partners on the opportunities and challenges of those two potential sites.
“We have a chance to make decisions that will shape the downtown and the city for the next 50 years and beyond,” says Mayor Charlie Clark.
“The illustrations give people an idea of what the District could look like and how exciting and dynamic this will be. A lot of the design detail will still need to be worked out ultimately by architects, partners, and working with the community. These are simply possible concepts.”
Council approved at its August 29 meeting a report outlining a detailed technical study of potential Downtown locations for a new event centre/arena, which will become one of the key anchors of the future Downtown Event & Entertainment District.
Artistic illustrations of the two potential sites presented at the meeting are now available on the City website at saskatoon.ca/eventdistrict.
Five different site options for the Downtown event centre/arena were initially studied to determine if they were a suitable size for a modern event facility, with a capacity comparable to the existing SaskTel Centre. Sites determined to be too small were eliminated from further consideration, while the remaining sites were ranked in accordance with nine evaluation criteria. After thoroughly studying the evaluation criteria, two sites are considered viable options:
Site A – Midtown Shopping Centre North Parking Lot
Site B – North Downtown/City Yards
Council also approved an engagement plan which will start this week. Public engagement on the two locations was not possible until the Midtown north parking lot was available following lengthy real estate discussions.
“This was probably the most complex land negotiations in the City’s history,” says Dan Willems, Director of Technical Services. “Engaging prior to the conclusion of negotiations would have significantly reduced the opportunity for the City to secure conditional purchase agreements within a competitive market price range.”
From August 30 to October 3 the City will seek public input in several ways:
August 30 to September 5:
A representative sample survey (that includes a telephone and online panel survey) for Saskatoon residents.
September 13 to October 3:
An opt-in online public survey (Saskatoon residents, as well as those from other communities, can self-select to participate);
An opt-in survey for local businesses and organizations; and
Intercept surveys to hear from residents across Saskatoon.
This engagement method reflects the “consult level” of the International Association for Public Participation using a qualitative approach. Results will be shared publicly and presented to City Council in November to be considered as part of the final decision on the location for the future event centre/arena site.
The event centre/arena site and surrounding area, will be developed as a shared public space where everyone feels comfortable and welcome. Coupled with a convention centre, it will act as an anchor for the rest of the District development. The future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will connect the District to the entire city, boosting revitalization of the Downtown.
The District will also be a destination and gathering place for all of Saskatchewan and beyond.
"We already know that many more people travel from outside Saskatoon for concerts and events, and we want to continue to offer those events and opportunities for all of us to enjoy well into the future,” says Councillor Troy Davies, co-chair, Downtown Event & Entertainment District Advisory Group. “This will be a game changer for Saskatoon and the province -- we are building this facility for our kids and grandkids.”
By offering residents and visitors a gathering place for entertainment and events, with a variety of restaurants, venues, shopping and nightlife, Saskatoon’s Downtown will become an economic driver for the city and the province.
The creation of a successful District will have significant benefits for Saskatoon — a new Downtown event centre/arena, a new or enhanced convention centre, and the future BRT are the key public infrastructure investments that will drive further investment in the Downtown area, Saskatoon, and Saskatchewan -- helping businesses attract the workforce and talent they demand.
Following further engagement and consultation with elders and community partners, the area would be developed sustainably with Indigenous placemaking a focus.
More information on The Journey to the District is available on saskatoon.ca/eventdistrict.