Saskatoon mayoral candidate Charlie Clark says a broad strategy of planning, technological advancement and sustainable energy is needed to maintain and grow grow the city’s economy.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Clark laid out his plan to keep people working through the pandemic.
His long-term strategy involves building a food processing hub in the Saskatoon region, building a centre for excellence in agriculture technology and continuing to work toward a greener Saskatoon.
“Right now, we have what the world needs. We need to make sure the rest of the world knows this,” said Clark.
Clark said he knows of several lost opportunities for food processing businesses that were considering setting up in the Saskatoon area in the past, but ultimately left for other areas.
“There wasn’t enough co-ordination between our regional partners, Corman Park and the city for infrastructure needs and the demands relative to what we were seeing in other places,” he said.
“We need to make sure that we have identified some of the obstacles to these plants opening in our region and being able to create the conditions for them to succeed here.”
He said initiatives like the Saskatoon North Partnership For Growth are critical. The master plan includes the Rural Municipality of Corman Park, Warman and Martensville, and considers a future where the region has a population of 500,000 in the next 20 years.
Clark also stressed the need to make Saskatoon’s infrastructure more environmentally friendly. He said initiatives like creating an electric charging network, more electric buses and more solar energy are critical to modernizing the city’s economy.
“When I talk to globally facing companies like Federated Co-op, Nutrien, Siemens, they’re all saying that they have an imperative right now to make sure that in addition to being in places where there’s cost competitiveness, they have a sustainability plan,” he said.
“If we can generate more renewable electricity opportunities here, that helps those companies to achieve their sustainability goals.”
Clark touted Saskatoon Light and Power’s plan to build a one megawatt solar array near the Montgomery neighbourhood as one way the city could work toward this goal.
Clark said more winter events, in tandem with the Winter City strategy, could help businesses like restaurants and hotels get through a potentially difficult season in the short term.
“We need to find the right ways to help our businesses survive through the winter and get people out and being able to celebrate and enjoy winter as much as possible.”
“It’s a time when people can’t go to Mexico, can’t go to their hot holidays, the snowbirds aren’t able to go where they need to go. So it’s just going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to come up with the best ways to animate our city.”
Clark also said the city needs to continue to push for flexible regulations, like sidewalk and parking patios, to help businesses.
Saskatoon’s municipal election will be held Monday, Nov. 9.