Event & Entertainment District a strategy for revitalizing Downtown: Vision Statement & Guiding Principles released
March 28, 2023 - 12:36 pm
- Reconciliation by honouring Indigenous Peoples, histories, languages and culture
- A distinctive identity through placemaking/placekeeping
- Architectural and public realm design excellence
- Reliable and efficient transportation options
- Downtown density with a focus on housing
- Leadership in sustainability and resiliency
- A robust and diverse economy
- A healthy and safe community
The City has developed a comprehensive plan to establish a Downtown Event and Entertainment District to become a hub of commercial, cultural and community activity. City Council will discuss a report to approve the Downtown Event and Entertainment District vision statement and guiding principles at its meeting March 29, 2023.
“This is a journey toward revitalizing downtown,” says Dan Willems, Director of Technical services. “A new event centre is just one aspect of the larger vison of creating an animated public area of thriving business and entertainment in Saskatoon’s Downtown, which is accessible to everyone.”
A key component of that accessibility is the future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. In November 2018, City Council directed the Administration to plan for the future of Saskatoon’s Downtown and that the focus of the planning work includes an entertainment district fully integrated with the BRT, not just an event centre and a convention facility.
The guiding principles incorporate priorities, policies and strategic initiatives from referencing several previously approved documents, including the City’s 2022-2025 Strategic Plan, City Centre Plan, Imagine Idylwyld and the Official Community Plan.
“With these plans in mind, the area will be developed sustainably and with a focus on Indigenous placemaking,” Willems says. “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 vision and principles have been created and refined through discussion with many stakeholders, including Council Committees, to create a robust and inclusive document.
“We have developed our vision statement and eight guiding principles that will be the bedrock for how we move forward,” says Lesley Anderson, Director of Planning and Development.
A safe and vibrant Downtown is a welcoming and inclusive place for all people to come together in cooperative spirit. The District supports a strong economy, strengthens our diverse community, and attracts people to live, work and play in the Downtown.
“There will be many opportunities for targeted and broad engagement for all residents and visitors to provide feedback on the project, as well as targeted engagement with stakeholders, rights holders and partners,” Anderson says.
The vision and guiding principles are an important start towards planning for the District and there will be more to the journey, a continuation of working with the community and businesses, to ensure the Downtown District reflects the values, history and people of Saskatoon
“Establishing a clear vision and guiding principles are foundational to creating a district that reflects and includes all of us,” says Councillor Cynthia Block who represents the downtown and is Council’s strategic lead for downtown development. “An event centre and convention facility are tools, but evidence shows success comes from everything that builds up around them. A district roadmap gives us the best chance to succeed and makes it uniquely our own.”
Block adds the City is developing a funding strategy that will have a minimal impact on taxes.
“We are looking at funding tools that other cities have used successfully, as well as contributions from other orders of government,” she says.
Once approved, the vision statement and guiding principles will be referenced in future reports related to the District Plan and how the guiding principles have influenced that work.
Administration will continue to prepare District Plan-related reports to the Governance and Priorities Committee and City Council at major milestones throughout the District Plan process.
The full report, including the full text of the vision statement and guiding principles, can be found on the meeting agenda.