2005 Community Engagement
City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Pleasant Hill Local Area Plan
For a decade, Saskatoon's Pleasant Hill community had been in decline, losing jobs and affordable housing. To revitalize the community, about 500 of 6,000 community residents came together to create a Local Area Plan (LAP). Since implementation of the plan in 2003, a community police station has opened, 15 safety audits have been conducted and funds have been budgeted to upgrade sidewalks and pave roads. The Adopt-a-Shelter program — the first of its kind in Canada — matches a community group with a neighbourhood bus shelter. The group works with Saskatoon Transit Services to keep the shelter safe and clean. If successful, the program could serve as a model for the rest of the city.
Since 1997, the City of Saskatoon's Corporate Strategic Plan has guided community development. The city's sustainability vision includes a commitment to invest in core neighbourhoods to make more efficient use of resources, reduce its urban footprint and, most importantly, ensure that all residents are involved in development decisions.
These plans and commitments are the basis for the city's local area planning process in Pleasant Hill, a core inner-city neighbourhood first developed in the early 1900s. With a mix of industrial, commercial and residential buildings, churches, schools and parks, Pleasant Hill was a vibrant, working class neighbourhood with almost 100 per cent home ownership.
During the 1990s, however, Pleasant Hill changed dramatically. Rental units increased, home ownership declined and employment decreased by more than half. Pleasant Hill's population also grew by about 25 per cent overall, with the Aboriginal population making up about 40 per cent of the area's total residents. With unemployment leading to higher poverty rates, residents worried that if action was not taken, housing deterioration, racism and crime would grow.
"Our corporate plan states that each neighbourhood is to be treated exactly the same, but each neighbourhood has different issues," says Lorne Sully, manager of the city's planning branch. "Even though each community deserves equal rights to access and the same share of city services, we had to recognize that they're not all the same. Ultimately, if we don't see the tipping point coming, there is a real risk of neighbourhood abandonment."
- More than 500 residents participated in creating the Pleasant Hill LAP. Action items in the plan cover land-use planning, zoning, safety issues, transportation, municipal services, parks and recreation, heritage and intercultural relations.
- Approximately $750,000 has been allocated to Pleasant Hill to create and implement the plan. Of that, about $500,000 has been designated to pave gravel roads and install new sidewalks in core neighbourhoods.
- The city's Business Licence Bylaw was amended to limit the number and density of pawnshops, which appeared to have a detrimental impact on the neighbourhood.
- The Central Urban Metis Federation Inc. bought deteriorated housing units in the area and is revitalizing them. "They stripped those units to the bone and are also dealing with other issues, like crime, on their own terms," says Mr. Sully.
- Since Pleasant Hill is a transient neighbourhood, with many people moving in and out, city planners arranged for its waste management staff to do additional sweeps of the area to empty overfilled waste bins, thereby improving the look of the area.
- The city has completed eight of twelve scheduled LAPs. The Pleasant Hill LAP's implementation approach was the first of its kind and has benefited other neighbourhoods with LAPs. The lessons learned from the Pleasant Hill experience will also be applied to the four neighbourhoods yet to undergo the LAP process.
- INVOLVE CITIZENS. The LAP clearly showed that, if given the opportunity, citizens want to be involved in development decisions. "Communities have been studied to death," says Ms. Moore. "Our process is participatory. Residents worked on the implementation plan with us. We continue to go back to the community and ask them what they want."
- BE PATIENT AND BE FLEXIBLE. Because the Pleasant Hill LAP is a living document, community and city representatives understand that over time it will change to reflect different priorities, as well as funding and staffing levels. "You have to be patient and realize that you can only go as fast as people are comfortable with," says Mr. Sully.
- ACTIVELY LISTEN TO CONCERNS. Facilitation skills among city staff were critical to hearing community concerns. Based on some initial survey results, the city also widened its advertising. "We do a mail drop to property owners using our property tax database, put notices in the city paper, do a flyer drop, post notices in frequently visited places (e.g., schools, businesses and libraries) and advertise on local radio and television stations," says Ms. Moore.
- PARTNER WITH ESTABLISHED COMMUNITY GROUPS. "We needed the Pleasant Hill Community Association to anchor the process, and they took a bit of a risk because not everyone agreed with the changes," says Mr. Sully. "Their commitment has been profound."
Partners and Collaboration
- Pleasant Hill Local Area Planning Group
- Pleasant Hill Community Association
- City Planning Branch
- Community Development Branch
- Environmental Compliance Branch
- Transit Services Branch
- Electrical Systems Branch
- Saskatoon Police Services
- Saskatoon Fire and Protective Services
- Municipal Engineering Branch
- Parking Services Section
- Traffic Management Section
- Traffic Signal Section
- Parks Branch
- Horticulture Maintenance Section
- Turf Maintenance Section
- Public Works Branch
- Asset Preservation Section
- Roadways Section
- Support Services Section
- Sign & Paint Shop
- Corporate Information Services Branch
- Land Assessments
- City Clerk's Office
- Records Management
- City Solicitor's Office
- Public Library Local History Room
- Building Standards Branch
- Systems & Information Management Section
- Secretarial Support Section
- Development Services Branch
- Development Review Section
- Business Licence & Zoning Compliance Section
- Land Branch
- Land Development Services
- Leisure Services Branch
- Mayor's Office
- City Manager's Office
- Communications Branch
- Councillor Ward I
- Councillor Ward II
- Child Hunger and Education Program
- University of Saskatchewan Department of Family Medicine
- Sunridge Development Corporation
- Canadian Pacific Railway
- Quint Development Corporation
- Riversdale BID
- Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority
- Pleasant Hill School
- Saskatoon Public School Board
- St. Mary's School
- Saskatoon Catholic School Board
- Action Associates
- Marketing and Publications Section
- Partners for Climate Protection
- Green Municipal Fund