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Arbutus goes to appeal board to overturn city of Saskatoon development stonewall

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Arbutus goes to appeal board to overturn city of Saskatoon development stonewall
The holding symbol was put in place at a Nov. 2 council meeting, with the city requiring Arbutus to provide adequate sewer capacity and pay outstanding offsite charges – Dec 9, 2022

A development company working on multiple projects in Saskatoon has been taking issue with city council, going so far as to try and overturn a decision at a development appeal board.

That appeal board was held on Thursday, with Arbutus Properties hoping to challenge the city’s decision to keep a holding symbol on one of the building projects.

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The holding symbol was put in place at a Nov. 2 council meeting, with the city requiring Arbutus to provide adequate sewer capacity and pay outstanding offsite charges. This in turn caused Arbutus to put a delay on both the Pitchfork market being built downtown, as well as the affordable housing project.

Jodi Manastyrski, director of legal services within the City Solicitor’s Office, said she considered the city’s actions appropriate.

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“Our view is that city council’s decision was good and valid. They adequately considered all of the reasons, and for that reason we are suggesting that it was a reasonable decision overall,” Manastyrski said.

She added that this has been a project in the works for a while.

“There’s always a way to move forward. I would stress, however, that our involvement with this file dates back to 2014-2015, so it has been ongoing, this didn’t happen overnight.”

Manastyrski said the city has reasons as to why they require servicing, adding that the city’s job is to protect the taxpayers.

“Council denying a request from the developer is not something that happens every day, and so the fact that council took this position is significant.”

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Both Arbutus and the city are left waiting on a decision from the appeal board, and Murray Totland, director of planning with Arbutus, said he felt good about what was discussed in the meeting.

“I think I’d leave there feeling we were heard today. I guess we’ll wait to see what the outcome of the board’s decision is, but I was pleased with the ways things proceeded,” Totland said.

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The former city manager said he was puzzled by the tension felt towards Arbutus, noting that they’ve tried to work the best they can with the city.

“I think at the end of the day the only thing we’ve been accused of is potentially being a little late on some development payments in the past.”

Totland said Arbutus has always paid what’s owed, noting it’s something they live by.

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“We’re committed to the projects we have in Rosewood, and we’ve got a huge investment in the Rosewood neighbourhood.”

“We understand the city may have some concerns and risks on certain things, we get that, we have no issue with that. But I think we’ve been able to provide a path forward that would address those and get us to our objectives as well.”

Totland added that he sees flexibility within the city, but noted that the city chose not to go with that, resulting in consequences that put their project and their investment in Rosewood in jeopardy.

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