Friday, July 14, 2006

Letter to the editor - September 27, 2005

River development short of expectations

The StarPhoenix

September 27, 2005

The SP editorial of March 11 (Spa proposals must strive for greatness) stated: "Nothing has been proposed so far that will elicit a wow from a visitor to Saskatoon, or anyone hearing of the Landing to make her want to visit the city." Nothing has happened since to change that.

It said "The far greater fear is that ... the Landing will end up as just another run-of-the-mill feature that is a testament to the homogeneity and blandness that characterize too many North American cities." Mission accomplished.

That Persephone Theatre, MVA and Tourism Saskatoon were chosen is no surprise. The whole south downtown process seemed predetermined from the start. In the end it's essentially a boring hotel and the relocation of three existing organizations.

Last year, in his column River Landing culturally sensitive (SP, Nov. 17) civic affairs columnist Gerry Klein suggested it was "critical" that the city create a committee with "a broad enough representation to define what constitutes Saskatoon's culture, what aspects must be represented ... and what is the maximum this city should go for." It didn't happen. The committee established consists of city staff, cost estimator, architect, financial adviser, The Partnership and consultant Gwyn Symmons. The entire Gathercole site was meant to be a unique and spectacular people place -- not just the tiny 1.78-acre cultural block.

The SP, which cheered council on for months, must bear some responsibility. The SP started raising concerns only when it was too late.

In December 2003, Klein wrote: "If the hopes of a generation of Saskatoon residents are to be fulfilled, what gets built in the south downtown must be exceptional. It must be so different from what already exists in these other cities that tourists will be diverted from their trips to the West Edmonton Mall, to Calgary's western settlement and zoo or to The Forks in Winnipeg."

River Landing falls short.

Joe Kuchta

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2005


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