Saskatoon city officials are estimating the city had its largest year-over year population change last year since the Second World War.
Using Statistics Canada numbers, the city estimates the population grew by roughly 14,400 people from Oct. 1, 2022, to Oct. 1, 2023.
“It wasn’t something that we particularly expected,” Saskatoon city planning and development director Lesley Anderson said.
“It’s not something that catches us off guard in terms of being able to deal with it, although those numbers were surprising.”
Previously, the highest population growth on record over the last 20 years was in 2012, when the population grew by 7,000.
Anderson said the city monitors growth annually as part of its future design process.
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The latest increase has the city looking at how many residential buildings will accommodate the growing population.
“We are looking at wow can we ensure that we get the number of new units built that are needed for (the increase in people). We definitely have the capacity in our infrastructure systems and our land base to deal with that number of units, but how can we ensure they’re getting out there (is what we are working on)”
One thing Anderson believes will have a big impact on future planning is the federal housing accelerator fund.
Saskatoon city council approved a housing accelerator fund action plan last year.
“That’s going to be a change that comes out in the next couple of years and kind of effects all of this going forward,” Anderson explained. It is currently unknow how much funding Saskatoon will receive.
The increase in population is also having a major effect on public transportation.
For months, residents have been complaining in and out of city hall about the overcrowding and late running city buses.
“There is more demand than buses at this time,” the Status of Saskatoon Transit Operations for Winter 2023/2024 report reads.
To address the demand, the city plans to acquire more buses and increase the frequency of trips during peak hours. It has already ordered 10 new buses, including two electric vehicles which are slated to be delivered this spring.
The other eight are to be put into action in the fall.
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