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How do you animate a city centre from summer sunshine to winter brrr?

At the heart of the western Canadian community of Saskatoon sits a city centre with great potential. The Saskatoon City Centre Plan will unleash this potential with dynamic elements, including vibrant nightscaping, distinct neighborhoods, and inviting public spaces. Integrated and animated, the plan's design represents a bold vision for the future and will bring life and energy to the Paris of the prairies in all seasons.

Citizens talking

The community gave its input and feedback over eight months. The direction they provided became the building blocks of the City Centre Plan.

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Walking time

A five-minute walking distance between any two of the core's neighborhoods will help create walkable environments that attract more people.


The plan's goals will help the city achieve urban vibrancy.

Transcript of the video follows
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<p>Messy vibrancy is at the heart of any plan that involves people, because a great plan is about connections. And connections are fluid, they are unpredictable, and messy.</p> <p>The economy is at the center of any great planning exercise. We want to make sure that we are allowing the economy to flourish because the economy is going to give us the means to continuously rebuild the city in a more progressive, more interesting way.</p> <p>We need the public space to give us great outdoor living rooms. If you don’t have great outdoor living rooms, there’s no place to hang out, there’s no people watching opportunities.</p> <p>Transportation is the big connector. It attaches everything together.&nbsp; We need to provide the means and the modes by which these people are going to connect to their work, to where they’re going to play, to where they’re going to just experience life.</p> <p>Great cities are not just about movement. They’re about being walkable, they’re about providing connectivity. So we need to create much more walkable, pedestrian centric cities.</p> <p>As we think about heritage, that is something that gives us a strong sense of place, a strong identity. The cities that have success in their core are cities that have preserved their heritage.</p> <p>And why this matters is because it’s all woven into the soul of the place, the spice of the place is its culture. We want visual stimulation, we want to have animation happening.</p> <p>This connects to sustainability. That means thinking about how do we reduce, relentlessly, the ecological footprint of the city.</p> <p>All of these seven components, they create one big major idea here. It’s that: as goes the city center, so goes Saskatoon. You cannot have a great city without having a great city center. Because the city center, the downtown, the core: That is the brand of a city.</p>

It's hip, it's urban, it's a public space

Transcript of the video follows
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<p>I’m Marc Wouters, lead urban designer for the Saskatoon City Centre plan. In developing this plan, we integrated economic revitalization strategies into the design of public spaces and walkable neighborhoods.<br> </p> <p>The wide streets of Saskatoon provided both the opportunity and room to insert important amenities. 23rd Street, which links City Hall Square to Saskatoon’s riverfront, is a perfect example.</p> <p>Our search for precedence from all over the world, took us to Park Avenue in Manhattan. Here churches, museums, and apartments are all connected by a central green. As one of New York’s showcases for Art, Park Avenue is an integral part of the City’s cultural identity.</p> <p>Using Park Avenue as a model, the plan transforms the lightly travelled way of 23<sup>rd</sup> Street into a greenway. With additional rows of trees and outdoor places for sculpture, 23<sup>rd</sup> Street becomes the civic spine of Saskatoon.</p> <p>It is an outdoor museum connecting the city’s library, City Hall, and Riverfront Park. Like Park Avenue it will attract new residents.</p> <p>Another great example of retrofitting of wide streets is New York’s Meat Packing District. Here large areas of empty asphalt were transformed by items as simple as potted plants, bollards, and tables and chairs. The transformation not only increased pedestrian visitation to retailers but it attracted large numbers of new residents.</p> <p>The transformation of 21<sup>st</sup> Street includes a new linear park that brings many of these same elements to Saskatoon’s retail core. The new 21<sup>st</sup> Street will strengthen existing retail and attract new residents. The design also celebrates some of the city’s most important historic landmarks. This vital public space can elevate Saskatoon’s visibility across the nation and help build the downtown economy and attract new residents.</p>

It's hip, it's urban, it's a public space

A city centre cannot thrive in isolation. Its economic growth and attractiveness as a place to live, work, and play are linked to many factors: urban design, residential planning, retail infrastructure, and for this winter city, weather. How will our plan help Saskatoon, the largest city in the province of Saskatchewan, thrive? With public spaces.

Saskatoon's streets have wide right of ways. For 23rd Street, we came up with a design that will eliminate one of its traffic lanes and replace it with a linear park that the public will enjoy year round, all while accommodating the low traffic volume. The park, with its benches, additional row of trees, and art installation spaces, will also connect downtown's city hall and library to the riverfront.


Showcasing the past in the present

We looked at 21st Street and saw a cultural destination. This wide street could be animated year round with a linear park that showcases the stunning Bessborough Hotel, one of the city's historic landmarks. This park would offer sheltered laneways and ample street parking in the winter. In summer, some parking spots would expand into pedestrian spaces.

On wheels, on foot, en route

On wheels, on foot, en route

The people of Saskatoon were clear: They wanted improved bike lanes and transit—not just cars—in the city centre. We designed a transportation network with new dedicated bike lanes that eliminates the centralized bus mall with its single downtown terminal. In its place would be a webbed grid of city-wide transit routes that includes the core as a stop.

Our plan will help connect people to the parks, neighborhoods, and other destinations in the downtown core whether they’re traveling on foot, on two wheels, or on four.

Surface parking

The area of the city centre currently made up of surface parking which we plan to change with our design.

We mapped out the neighborhoods and discovered a five-minute walking distance between any two of them. These distinct, walkable neighborhoods will link to a greater network of pedestrian-oriented spaces.

What People Are Saying

“Apparently about 26% of Saskatoon's city centre area is surface parking lots - #YXE City Centre Plan's worth a read.”

Gathering Spine, @frootyon

“Mark your calendar for Jane's Walk. May 3rd. I will describe Saskatoon's new City Centre Plan.”

Alan Wallace, @awallace1961

“@Stantec designed and planned #Saskatoon City Centre Plan holds promise.”

Simon O'Byrne, @Simon_OByrne

“Saskatoon's City Centre Plan lays out solutions to downtown parking: Parking study to be done in 2014.”

Regina Daily News, @reginadailynews

“Heated sidewalks: Iceland has them, Saskatoon wants them: The new city centre plan for Saskatoon includes a plan to help people in the city better enjoy the winter with heated sidewalks.”

Stella Pollard, @breakingnews_90

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Simon O'Byrne
Vice President, Regional Business Leader, Community Development (Canada)
Simon O'Byrne
Vice President, Regional Business Leader, Community Development (Canada)

I feel very fortunate to do what I do—urban planning—which is about the art, business, culture, and science of great place making.… Read More

Devin Clarke
Devin Clarke

Creating communities that will positively impact society for years to come is very rewarding.… Read More

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