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City of Saskatoon takes steps to address housing affordability

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City of Saskatoon takes steps to address housing affordability
WATCH: The city of Saskatoon has approved recommendations allowing for more housing opportunities, hoping to access federal funds and ultimately change what housing looks like in the city. Global's Easton Hamm has more. – Nov 24, 2023

The city of Saskatoon has approved recommendations allowing for more housing opportunities, hoping to access federal funds and ultimately change what housing looks like in the city.

“This is a generational shift in what housing looks like. More people will have access to stable and affordable housing, with walkable services and access to public transit and active transportation opportunities,” said Lesley Anderson, Saskatoon’s director of Planning and Development.

The changes come due to a letter sent from the office of the federal Minister of Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities, Sean Fraser, asking the city to reconsider adding a number of additions to the city of Saskatoon’s application for the housing accelerator fund.

Those recommendations to council are:

  • Administration be directed to propose a zoning bylaw amendment that would permit “as-of-right” development for up to four residential units on a property in a residential zoning district with appropriate development standards, including regulations, such as lot sizes and servicing capacity and report back to a Public Hearing in 2024.
  • Administration be directed to propose a zoning bylaw amendment that would permit four-storey multiple-unit development within 800 metres of the bus rapid transit system corridors, with appropriate development standards, including servicing capacity and report back to a Public Hearing in Q2 2024.
  • That Administration be directed to propose a zoning bylaw amendment that removes parking requirements from areas that are within the defined Corridor Areas and report back to a Public Hearing in Q1 2024; and, that this motion be forwarded to the Standing Policy Committee on Planning, Development and Community Services, as part of the ‘Options for Review of Minimum Parking Regulations’ being considered at the Dec. 6 meeting.
  • That Administration be directed to work with the University of Saskatchewan to increase density and create opportunities for student housing in the College Quarter.
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Those recommendations were approved by city council on Nov. 23, and now the city will send a formal response to the federal government.

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“Approval of our application could potentially provide tens of millions of dollars to increase the city’s housing supply, including affordable housing with a focus on the areas of Saskatoon near transit corridors,” Anderson added.

Saskatoon resident Bertrand Bartake told Global News these changes are needed in Saskatoon.

“For far too long we’ve made it illegal to build more than just single-family homes in most of our neighborhoods,” said Bartake.

He believes when more homes can be built on less amount of land, it creates density, and can even make property taxes more affordable.

“A whole neighborhood of single-family homes you’ve got many fewer residents paying for that same amount of infrastructure, that same length of pipe, the same street.”

Bartake believes creating more density, and more homes in a neighbourhood should have a positive effect, and create a positive atmosphere for future generations.

“I want to be close to amenities, I want it to be walkable, I don’t really want to have to walk through a bunch of parking lots to get to places and be spread out,” Bartake added.

However, not all residents were a fan of the idea. Multiple residents of the Grosvenor Park neighbourhood submitted comments to council.

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“This will completely change our beautiful neighbourhood full of vintage 60s homes. In addition, it’s naive to think that given our climate, all of the new residents to the area won’t have vehicles that require space,” Erin Case wrote to council.

Bartake however, believes these changes shouldn’t affect current homeowners in the area.

“Likely many of the existing homeowners won’t be affected by this because they have the choice to develop their land or not, this is really about the future, my kids, and their kids.”

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Rising prices, interest rates impacting Saskatchewan families

Saskatchewan Realtor’s Association CEO Chris Guérette applauds city council for approving the recommendations. Saying no to more housing is no longer an option, he explained.

She says the province still has a long way to go in addressing the amount of homes it will need in the future.

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“We need to produce between 60,000 and 80,000 units by 2030,” she said. “Just to give you a bit of context on that, that means we need to produce close to 12,000 units a year until then, we are right now sitting at around 3,000 or 4,000.”

The city will now respond to Minister Fraser’s office with its revised application, and a public hearing will be held at Saskatoon city council around the beginning of 2024.

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