Becoming a Better Medium-Sized City

One of the things we discuss often is how Saskatoon can be a good, interesting, well-rounded medium-sized city in the face of current pressures from federal and provincial governments. It’s not a challenge unique to Saskatoon, and I came across the other day a really good introduction to what a medium-sized city in Britain is doing. Under their brightly-trousered new mayor, George Ferguson, Bristol is trying all sorts of things, the cheaper the better. Some of the programs initiated by their dynamic leader Saskatonians may be familiar with, like residential parking permits; others such as the “Make Sunday Special”, where part of the downtown is closed to traffic on the eponymous day, have yet to be tried here. While not (yet) the size of Bristol, we do have several things in common – we have a healthy arts scene and are home to creative incubators such as PAVED Arts and New Media, the Two Twenty, TAC Concerts, and ideas inc., to name a few. Not to mention many arts and music festivals that have become institutions. Bristol is trying all sorts of projects and involving people directly – they have a website where residents can submit ideas and provide feedback on the ideas of others. While not all of the ideas are surefire winners – the parking permits received a lot of pushback – I like that Bristol is taking proactive measures and testing pilot projects. In the words of Ferguson, “I’m at a stage in my life where I’m not prepared to just fiddle at the edges of things.”