Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark believes the city has come a long way since 2006, when he first ran for city council.
Speaking to hundreds of people at the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce‘s state of the city address on Tuesday, he referenced a time where the Neil Stonechild inquiry and the future of the Stonebridge development were some of the issues prompting divisive debates.
“It was pro-development versus anti-development, suburbs versus city centre, west side versus east side, Indigenous versus non-Indigenous,” Clark said.
Since then, he noted, reconciliation is at the forefront and eight neighbourhoods have been added to the city.
“River Landing is rising,” Clark said.
“Seventy thousand people have moved to our city from all over the province and all over the world.”
Clark said this is a time where people are being pushed outside of their comfort zones and, as a city, it’s time to determine what place Saskatoon will have in the world.
“Every month, over half of the people in Saskatchewan are $200 away from insolvency,” Clark said. “Economic inequality is growing in our province, in our country and in the world.”
“We have to decide how we deal with that uncertainty.”
Clark spoke about how collaboration and inclusivity work better than divisiveness. He applied that same theory to business.
“Collaboration is our competitive advantage,” he said. “The fastest way for division and tension to grow in a community is to have any group of people be left out of the economy.”
Clark noted big accomplishments like Saskatoon’s newest bridges, overpasses, the River Landing development and bringing Uber to the city.
“You can take – legally – an Uber to a local cannabis store and buy yourself a joint,” he exclaimed. “All of these projects are the signs of a growing, dynamic city.”
Clark drew particular focus to Saskatoon’s core, saying there’s an opportunity to shape downtown for generations to come.
“We have this huge city yards on the north end of the city that is going to become a future neighbourhood at some point,” he said.
“Only once every 30, 40, 50 years do you build an arena facility like what we are talking about – joining as an entertainment district that could become the stimulus for all kinds of other development activity.”
He closed the address by acknowledging the challenges of building a city, but its potential for a strong future.