The Next Big Thing: Seventh Avenue Gateway

The City Park Community Association voted last month to spend extra funds on new projects in the community, including renewing the neighbourhood entrance at the Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street railway crossing.

Now, a steering committee has been formed to oversee the capital expenditure. Some early suggestions include hiring a local youth art group to mural the cement walls of the overpass and also to clean up the surrounding area. Canadian Pacific Railway has been contacted, and they too have shown interest in providing some financial support for the project.

The project was chosen from an official list of ideas from City Park residents, compiled by members of the CPCA for The Next Big Thing venture. Other suggestions included planting an apple orchard in Wilson Park, which could potentially be the first step to a full-fledged food forest. Also, some residents pitched the idea for a picnic structure in Wilson Park, equipped with an outdoor wood-burning oven.

However, according to the majority of the members of the CPCA at the February executive meeting, renewing the Seventh Avenue Gateway is top priority. Currently, the area surrounding the train overpass appears industrial and uninviting, says council members.

The cost of improving The Seventh Avenue Gateway is still unknown, but its possible there will be funds left over in The Next Big Thing portfolio for additional projects.

Going into 2012, the CPCA had accumulated a substantial surplus, therefore allowing the organization to tackle a major project. The earmarked money will still leave an appropriate operating budget for the remander of the year.

Anyone with comments or suggestions regarding The Next Big Thing project is asked to email CPCA Vice President Janice Braden at janicelbraden@gmail.com.

Photo: Google Street View

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Searching for a balance: will ‘pocket park’ off-set parking lot?

By Tom Wolf

Tom is a long-time City Park resident, and former president of the City Park Community Association. In this article he presents an alternative for the FNUC property redevelopment, and hopes to spark discussion throughout the community on the issue raised. 

In 2010, Meridian Developments purchased the FNUC property on Duke and 7th. They acted on behalf of Affinity Credit Union, for whom the site will soon become corporate headquarters with roughly 200 employees.

One of the reasons Affinity chose this building was the availability of surface parking. Although they encourage their employees to bus, bike or walk to work, about 170 parking spaces will be created on what is currently an open grass area. Affinity has offered to keep and improve the skating rink on the site.

Some residents are concerned about the impact of 170 additional cars entering the residential heart of our neighbourhood. For example, additional traffic on Duke St. will affect pedestrians, especially our kids waiting for the school busses in the morning and returning in the afternoon. Another problem are the poor aesthetics of having a busy parking lot facing a residential corner and the associated noise and congestion on an already busy street.

For residents of City Park, the question is how these negative effects can be lessened.

One solution may be to eliminate parking lot access from Duke and establish a ‘pocket park’ in the south-east corner of the property.

The size of the park would be equivalent to the area taken by the rink (which, according the City of Saskatoon, can’t be relocated to the corner), so the number of parking spaces would not be affected.

In that scenario, the rink would need to be moved to another location in the Collegiate grounds, or Wilson Park. The addition of a pocket park with trees, shrubs, tables, and benches would serve residents who use Duke to get to Spadina or 2nd Ave, and would also be very nice for kids or Affinity staff.

Meridian and Affinity have already been made aware of these concerns and we look forward to working with them to sort things out.

In the meantime, these ideas should be discussed amongst ‘City Parkers’ to see if they have merit and should be pursued.

Photo: Wikipedia

33rd Street project great for cyclists

Biking is about to become easier and safer for residents of City Park.

City council has approved the construction of a multi-use cyclist and pedestrian corridor along the south side of 33rd street. The pathway will stretch from Spadina Crescent to 3rd Avenue, directly along the border of City Park and North Park.

The new three-metre-wide separated avenue is the first phase of a $6.7 million masterplan, which will eventually connect the University of Saskatchewan main campus with the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST).

According to a city report, the first phase — which will also be available to those in wheelchairs and scooters — will cost $1.67 million, with $1 million coming from the federal government.

The rest of the project ,which is yet to be funded, will include the continuation of the 33rd Street corridor, from 3rd Avenue to Idylwyld Drive, and additionally, a roundabout at Spadina Crescent and 33rd street, improved streetlights, landscaping, new benches and bus stops.

The planned corridor is one of a handful of attempts the city has recently made to improve bicycle safety, showing they are finally on-board to resolve the poor conditions cyclists face in Saskatoon.

In 2011, the city released a comprehensive how-to guide to cycling in Saskatoon. According to the city’s website, the guide “rates every road in Saskatoon, from novice to intermediate and expert, and provides suggested routes and facilities that have been identified by experienced local cyclists and City staff.”

The guides are free, and can be downloaded on PDF here, or you can pick up a hard copy from any library or leisure centre.

On the website you can also check out the city’s cycling newsletter, read about bicycle safety and research Saskatoon’s overall “plan for cycling.”

Graphic: City of Saskatoon

Press Release: Demolition of Bethany / Silverwood House

SASKATOON (February 14, 2012): The City Park Community Association (CPCA) deeply regrets the imminent demolition of the Bethany Home on Queen Street. The destruction of this historic character building will be a loss not just to City Park but also to the people of Saskatoon as very few such 100-year old residences remain in our city.

We appreciate that the new owner and developer of the site offered the house to the city and attempted to have it moved off the lot so as to preserve the building. We feel however that more houses such as the Bethany Home should be designated as heritage buildings. The City of Saskatoon also needs to provide more protection for our historic buildings that are currently not designated as heritage, including putting in place an extensive consultation process with the neighbourhood affected before a demolition permit is granted.

For more information contact CPCA President Michael Murphy at 244-5267 or vice-president Janice Braden at 321-2310.

Photo: Saskatoonhomepage.ca

Babysitter Registry

The City Park Community Association will once again be offering a community-based babysitter registry to serve the needs of young families living in the area.

If you are a babysitter and would like to get your name on the registry, please submit your name, age and phone number to janicelbraden@gmail.com. For anyone under the age of 18, please provide the name and phone number of a guardian to confirm consent. Also, indicate if you have babysitter course training, preferred ages, availability times and any other information you would like potential families to know.

If you want a copy of the babysitter list, contact Janice Braden at 653-1888 or janicelbraden@gmail.com.

Photo: Aquilla/Flickr

The Potato Patch

By Larry Mullen, Food Bank Garden Coordinator

City Park has been home to “The Potato Patch,” a garden for the Food Bank, for the past two summers. Oct. 11 saw the last of this year’s crop harvested and delivered to the Food Bank larder.

Located on the half city block off 3rd. Avenue, between Duke and Duchess, and surrounded by a blue wire fence, the land was worked by volunteers and Food Bank staff to produce an abundant supply of fresh vegetables. The weeds threatened to defeat us during the long, hot days of July and early August — but volunteer workers prevailed. In early October, over a 6 day period, we dug up 6,180 lbs. of carrots. Earlier in the season the potato, beet, cabbage and onion crops yielded just over 9,000 lbs.

The crowning results, however, came from the stand of corn. On just under one third of an acre we picked 5,800 ears. This amount exceeds the 5 year provincial average! Thank you to Dave Hiebert for planting the idea, last fall, to grow corn.

There are a great many others to thank for this successful project. Most importantly, Keith and Carla Lysyshyn, living on 4th. Ave., provided access to their water. Without this generous supply we would not have had the yields we did. Several people from City Park and surrounding neighbourhoods came forward to lend a hand at important junctures.

The workers from Urban Camp, Teen Challenge, and Sask.Tel Pioneers were once again main stays. Wally, from Wally’s Urban Market Garden, whom many City Parkers know from his stall at the Farmers’ Market, provided inspired hands-on help several times during the summer.

Potato Patch

Critical to our success were staff, clientele, and volunteers from the Food Bank along with volunteer gardeners from Circle Drive Alliance Church who came at a crucial time. Ben Marlanovits, the horticulturist from the Core Neighbourhood Co-op, was also much appreciated for his assistance.

The final push to harvest all those carrots was provided by students via the Learning Centre and the Aboriginal Students’ Centre at the U of S. Also contributing from the University was Professor Doug Waterer and his staff from the Department of Plant Science, who provided invaluable work and consultation throughout the year. Welcome aboard and thanks also to the people newly involved from the Department of Soil Science.

Thanks to the reliable Ernie Fast who returned for year two with his cultivating equipment; to Rob Ferguson, owner of Super Save Fencing, for all his material help; to Ruth Anne and Robin from CHEP for their consultations, and to the Sask. Waste Reduction Council for volunteer help at another crucial time.

Hats off to Mayor Don Atcheson for his enthusiastic on-going support and to all the City Councillors who voted in favour of having the garden continue this past year.

Also thanks to Milt Taylor, owner of Imagery Photography on Duchess, inspired the project and provided necessary fund-raising support, bringing in money and in-kind contributions. In return we provided him with vegetables rather than half a city block of weeds. His enthusiastic interest helped make it all fun.

One final note: throughout this report I have used the words “critical” and “crucial” to describe times when the weeds were swamping us and/or the produce was ripe and ready for harvesting immediately if not sooner. Those of you who garden will appreciate how crucial it is to get help at these critical times! Half a city block is a lot of land to be responsible for, but everyone is already looking forward to 2012.

Photo: mellowynk/Flickr

Citizen Patrol

The Citizen Patrol Program is a city-wide campaign — led by the Saskatoon Police Service — to rally volunteers to be the “eyes and ears” for police, in an attempt to deter criminal activity.

According to the Saskatoon Police Service website, citizen patrol volunteers bring a positive visable presence to the neighbourhood and have “firsthand knowledge of who does and doesn’t live” in a certain community.

The program organizes groups of volunteers and provides brief police instruction on how to document suspicious behavior.

As of now, City Park does not run a Citizen Patrol Program. However, John Ng has stepped up and is looking for enthusiastic, responsible and caring people to join him in volunteering for the program.

You can volunteer as much time as you can afford. Working in teams, volunteers either bike, jog or drive around the neighbourhood wearing vests, usings flashlights and cell phones.

To read more, go to the official Saskatoon Police Service website located at http://www.police.saskatoon.sk.ca, select Programs and Services along the left hand tab, and choose the first drop-down option “Citizen Patrol.”

To participate contact your local Citizen Patrol coordinator John Ng at johnathan.ng@gmail.com or Constable Weins/Sergeant McAvoy at 975-2265.

Photo: Saskatoon Police