Downtown Saskatoon businesses worried about BRT route

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WATCH ABOVE: Some business owners are concerned about the proposed route for the BRT system in downtown Saskatoon. – May 9, 2018

What’s happening on the street on Third Avenue, say business owners, can make or break their business.

Fewer parking spots means fewer customers which is why Ellie Richardson says she’s speaking her mind in the hope the City of Saskatoon selects a new location for its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

READ MORE: City of Saskatoon consulting public and stakeholders on latest BRT configuration

“There are already some businesses here on Third Avenue that are going to give their notice,” Richardson said.

“I just signed another five year lease with an option for another five so I’m stuck here.”

The BRT is part of a 40 to 50 year growth plan, a system that will some day serve as an option for a projected population in Saskatoon of 500,000.

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“One of things we’ve tried to get from the city is reasonable comparisons to other communities about our size, our make-up, population density and try to track what impact both positive and negative,” said Brent Penner, executive director of Downtown Saskatoon Business Improvement District

“I think that’s been difficult to achieve given there aren’t a lot of comparable to cities our size doing this type of a project.”

READ MORE: Saskatoon releases update on growing the city to meet the needs of 500K people

Approximately 52,000 residents live within walking distance of the proposed BRT corridors but that’s cold comfort for businesses in the area.

“I think there’s still a significant amount of customer access that comes by vehicle and there’s a concern that that’s removed that might be damaging to their business.”

A total of six blocks along Third Avenue is what is being suggested as the preferred route through the downtown.

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“We’re not against the rapid transit – what we’re against is losing our parking,” Richardson added.

Between 80 to 100 business line the street where Richardson says parking right now is spotty at best.

According to the city, revisions continue to be made and the new system should only result in a net loss of nine parking stalls.

Changes to the distribution of parking, however, as noted in the graphic above, show that some side of the street will have no parking at all.

“Parking is really at a premium here and if they’re going to do Third Avenue – they’re going to take out all the medians, all the parking meters they just put,” Richardson added.

“It’s ridiculous – it’s costing tax payers big bucks to put this in.”

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City officials says the plan is a work in progress and that nothing is done deal. Spring or summer is the target for a decision on a location and  final street designs won’t be until later this year.

“How dare you take away our businesses away from us after we have created our business some for 30, some for 40 years on Third Avenue – it’s going to kill us.” Richardson added.

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