The Saskatoon Scene: NIMBY Stonebridge and Montgomery Place

This column originally appeared in the Saskatoon Express, January 10, 2012:

A new Saskatoon resident who just moved his life and business here from Alberta was giddy with excitement over the future of our beautiful city. “It reminds me of Calgary in the seventies,” he said over lunch. “Alive with possibilities.” With Saskatoon likely reaching an all-time population record in 2011, and predicted to be the fastest-growing city in 2012, there’s no end in sight to that skyrocketing potential.

So its disappointing to have to hear, over and over again, about pockets of citizens who firmly believe that it is their unquestionable right to live here perfectly uninterrupted. These citizens, swaddled in mediocrity, resent newcomers who have the audacity to encroach upon our city, inevitably stretching its borders and the need for new and varied services.

In spring of last year, residents in the new east side neighborhood of Stonebridge responded with outrage to the notion that a Value Village was being constructed at a nearby big box centre. “Value Village will reduce the image of the community and I’m not sure the clientele of Stonebridge are the same people that shop at Value Village type stores,” said one commenter on the Stonebridge Community online forum.  Another asked, “Do I need to fear for my children’s safety and my property with the types of people this store is going to bring into our neighbourhoods?”

Get. Over. Yourselves.

Perhaps they did, as the issue slunk off to die in a hole somewhere, and the new Value Village location proceeded as planned. As a future Stonebridge resident – and the proud owner of vintage Pucci and a whole box of stone-cold awesome costume jewelry, all part of a rather extensive collection excavated from Value Village – I’m thrilled.

The latest NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) culprits are residents of the community of Montgomery, who are livid over a proposed apartment development in the vicinity of their area, located on the fringe of Saskatoon’s southwest corner. Northridge Developments, a highly reputable builder which has contributed greatly to the beautiful esthetics of our new communities, wants to put three four-storey apartment buildings on five acres of land – 192 units total. The company is also considering homes for seniors and assisted-living apartments for the location. Scoundrels!

The Montgomery Community Association figures the city ought to outlaw any apartment or townhouse construction in the area. Association president Barb Biddle told the Saskatoon Star Phoenix that Montgomery has a “country feel…mature trees, no sidewalks and very narrow streets – that alone makes the situation different than other areas of the city.”

Trees, sidewalks and streets. Different than the city. Really.

Biddle also told the SP that Montgomery residents “feel under siege”. Perhaps Montgomery residents ought to talk to people who have actually ever been “under seige”. I’m pretty sure it feels absolutely nothing like having brand new property investment in your neighborhood.

In its fight against the proposed nearby wind turbine, I supported Montgomery residents – the turbine was ill-advised. But battling new housing because of an apparent superiority complex based on big trees? That’s exactly the kind of thinking that ensured Saskatoon went nowhere for far too long.

If you want to live in the country, surrounded by nothing, buy a farm. If you want to live in the greatest, fastest-growing city in Canada – welcome home.

Comments

  1. It is disgusting that you feel you have the right to comment on the development in Montgomery, without knowing all of the facts. To start North Ridge has not committed to construct any senior or assisted living homes and has only hinted at the fact that one of the buildings MAYBE a 55+ complex. Secondly you have to understand that Montgomery residents are outraged in the fact that the Sask arts board who the land had been donated to for a community purpose, was sold under the counter to a developer without consulting anyone. Until very recently the space of the proposed development had been used as an off leash dog park used by all west side residents. The worst part is that in this time of modern planning techniques that aim to involve the community in planning spaces, North Ridge blatantly disregarded the idea and instead opted to shove what it saw fight down the throat of the community. Montgomery is not opposed to change, it is however opposed to a development that because of its poor design, isolation from services, and undesirable location next a free way and train tracks is destined to become rundown and a SLUM. If however North Ridge would have followed good urban design practices and created a mixed use development with shops, offices, and residential and integrated transit they would have created a place where people want to be and there would be no opposition meet from the community.

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