Monday, November 9, 2009

Want to get rich quick?

Be a consultant for the city. The old Gathercole and AL Cole sites have been the most studied properties in Saskatoon. It has gone on for decades. I couldn't even hazard a guess at the cost of previous studies or the money lost by developers on failed proposals.

A plan was developed, after public consultation, for a mix of public/private development. Initially the public contribution was to be about $35 million. Close to $80 million has already been spent and another $55 to 60 million contemplated for more public use development. And still no private development to help foot the bill. And it seems we're going to consult again.

In the event councillors didn't hear the message during the election - the public is concerned about the money you are spending and the debt you are creating. They are concerned that you can't bring a project in on budget or stick to a plan.

If you truly want public input hold a referendum vote. It will be cheaper than another consultant. You actually might create something that the majority will agree upon.

Where is council?

Neault and Heidt say - put it back on the market. Sorry boys. Last time you only had one taker and he just lost a bundle of money. I just can't see a flurry of activity on another go round. I fear you will simply taint the property as being a developer's nightmare.

Penner says - test the market - no rush to develop - grass it. Already done. We need something to pay for watering the grass we've already planted.

Hill's position - no rush - consult again. Been there, done that. Word of advice - wear a saddle when straddling the fence.

Lorje says - she's open to more public space but it won't attract people. Then why be open to it? Check other cities, hire another consultant. Been there, done that. Up, down, blue, brown.

Clark's - wants a successful public gathering space - quandary is competing interest between generating tax base and doing something good for citizens. Generating tax revenue would be doing something good for citizens.

Wyant - check with developers and reconsider existing zoning and development guidelines. What a novel idea. Actually find out why developers struggle with this piece of property. Tip of the hat to Wyant.

Dubois, Paulsen, Atch, Pringle - from all reports seem to be into more consultation.


  1. I have lived in Saskatoon for most of my life and I never did have a good feeling about the city acquiring land for a private developer. Had we placed that lovely chunk of concrete called CUC on this site we would have had a revenue generator for the last 20 years instead of this money pit that the tax payer will continue to foot the bill for for years to come. The real issue here the fact City Council for years have allowed all the BIG BOX malls to be developed which has eliminated the need for people to go down town. Lets call a spade a spade I'm more concerned about having the money to put enough police on the street than I am about a people place downtown.

  2. I disagree with anonymous. Downtown is already a people place with it being almost impossible to find parking in the evening especially. But I do think that all the rules about this piece of land need to be thrown out. Let's ask developers what they see going on this land and then look at the upside and downside for the ideas. When we see what developers want, then place reasonable and light zoning on the land. I don't know if this is possible or practical but I just want something put on that piece of land now.

  3. It's possible that the land isn't the problem. After two highly competent developers unsuccessfully put their best foot forward on this land, perhaps it will require more than just developers alone to come up with the answer to save Saskatoon tax payers.

    I believe the latest issue wasn't the land, but rather the global economic meltdown. The City nor Developer predicted it.

    It is a new market which does require a new solution; something that the citizens of Saskatoon hopefully will take interest in helping create.

  4. Had Mayor Atchison not huffed and puffed and blown down the Gathercole, the city would have a public centre on the riverbank now returning money to city coffers.

  5. Apparently a certain land developer is coming to council on Monday and he might come cheque in hand.

    Two questions:
    1. Could City Council accept the cheque even if they wanted to, given the deal was dead as of Oct 30th at 5pm?
    2. Should they accept it if they were allowed?

  6. The GIG plan would have become the city's black hole and only used one segment of the land. I think the connection between Friendship and Victoria parks is great and the uses currently located on RL are good. I question why the private development has not yet happened and why. And more importantly the out of control and over-budgeted spending.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.