Saskatchewan is growing
Growth is the only thing on Michael Fougere's mind as ihs city moves into 2014.
Regina's growing population spurred much of City Council's activity last year, according to Regina's mayor. That included continuing work on several items that had begun in previous years, like a new official community plan (OCP), the upgrades to the waste water treatment plant, and the Regina Revitalization Initiative (which includes the construciton of a new stadium).
Saskatoon's New Year's baby reflects a growing and diversifying city.
Bound tightly in a red fleece blanket, baby Sufyaan Mirza barely batted an eye as a throng of media cameras captured his first moments on earth. The bundle of joy slept through what was a momentous occasion of his parents, Yasir and Attka.
At 1:13 a.m. Jan 1, Sufyaan became not only the bridge city’s first baby of 2014, but also his family’s first Canadian citizen.
Regina's mayor will remember 2013 as a tough year that had the future of the city at stake.
Michael Fougere saw his first full year as mayor jam-packed with some of the most contentious issues and expensive projects in recent memory.
He said from the waste water treatment plant project to the feuding and negotiations with the RM of Sherwood, everything Council did this year was in service of growth. He said that's evidence that times have changed.
The number of people through the Saskatoon airport in 2013 really took off as an estimated 1.38 million passengers visited the airport.
"We have record passenger volumes every month in 2013," said Stephen Maybury, president and CEO of Saskatoon Airport Authority.
He said the number of passengers in 2013 is 4.4 per cent higher than in 2012, but he expects 2014 to break 2013's record.
Beside the growth in passenger traffic, Maybury said the airport is also experiencing physical growth through the $53 million dollar expansion project.
With Saskatoon adding close to 13,000 jobs in 2013, the chamber of commerce said 2014 will not see the same unprecedented workforce growth.
“We do see employment growth that will be solid in 2014 but it is unlikely we will be seeing it at the scale we saw in 2013 simply because it was such a remarkable year,” Kent Smith-Windsor said.
The chamber reports an 8.5 per cent employment increase, citing how well-performing economies average about a two per cent increase, putting Saskatoon's growth at four-times greater than Canada's other growing cities.
Saskatchewan is racking up some big numbers in the population department in 2013.
Back on July 1, 2013 the province hit the 1.1 million population mark, setting a new all-time record. New numbers show that between then and Oct. 1 the population grew by another 5,867 people. The year-over-year figures from Oct. 2012 to Oct. 2013 show Saskatchewan's population grew by 19,797 people. Both of those numbers were the second highest in Canada, trailing just behind Alberta.
Along with a plan for growth over the next 30 years, Regina's City Council approved a proposal to grow downtown on Monday night.
A new office building was given the thumbs-up by Council for Rose St. between 11th and 12th Avenues. Once built, it will be one of the biggest office buildings in Saskatchewan at 400,000 square feet.
This is actually the second application for the product. The original plan was approved two years ago but didn't gain any traction.
Regina's future is set and the city's population could hit a record number.
On Monday night city councillors voted to approve the official community plan. Within the next 30 years, 70-per cent of the city's expansion will take place outside current city limits.
“This is our blueprint plan over the next 25 to 30 years, it reflects consensus among the public,” said Mayor Michael Fougere.
Fougere noted that over the years, council hasn’t heard from one person who has completely disagreed with what they're trying to do.
The Saskatchewan Government is joining the mobile age, thanks to its new million dollar web site.
On Monday the province launched www.saskatchewan.ca, a new website aimed at modernizing the government's web site and making the space more effective. Terri Harris, the province's chief of operations in Executive Council, says in the past people have complained that the old site was "frustrating, overwhelming and ineffective."