While Saskatoon is at an exciting and dynamic time in its history, the city is also going through a challenging time economically.
2016 was a year that saw a continued downturn in the economy, the transit dispute resolved and a big change at city hall.
After serving a decade on city council, Charlie Clark moved into the mayor’s chair following an election that seemed to engage and capture the voter’s attention.
“We ended up having an interesting race where everybody was putting out a new approach and different ideas,” Clark said.
Clark knows, however, there are challenges ahead as the city comes out of a period of growth and into a slowdown, exposed to the ups and down of the commodity market.
Through all this, the mayor believes Saskatoon is well positioned to weather the downturn in 2017.
“Compared to Calgary and Edmonton, the diversification of our economy and the agriculture sector and a lot of those areas I think have given us some resilience those other economies don’t have,” Clark added.
Saskatoon’s population continued to grow in 2016, with newcomers arriving from other parts of the country and the world.
“A lot of new people have moved to Saskatoon and have to decide if they want to stay,” Clark said.
“And it’s been more difficult for people to get set up and find good jobs in the community.”
Clark said he’s hearing a mix of feedback. Many people are still finding success in the tech sector and in the city’s service sector.
“That’s the test. We know we have a changing labour market. We have a baby boomer population that is retiring. And we do need to have people come and be part of the community,” Clark said.
Among the success stories of the year, Clark pointed to the indigenous business development that “took off” in 2016.