Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main challenges that are hindering Saskatchewan’s growth in rural areas?
Saskatchewan has a very large area but relatively very small population. To put it in context, Saskatchewan’s area is larger than many European countries such as France, Ukraine, Germany and about twice the size of United Kingdom. The Southern half of our province is based on Agriculture as the prime driver of the economy with Saskatoon as the prime hub for all the mining companies. Therefore, most of our population is concentrated in the urban centers with a relatively smaller proportion in the rural areas.
Combined with all these challenges, comes a declining supply chain for individuals and businesses resulting in declining viability and future prospects in rural areas. Therefore, Saskatchewan has experienced and continues to experience the shift toward two metros of Saskatoon and Regina, sometimes at the direct expense of the widespaces of the province.
Are there any other benefits of this pilot project?
Saskatoon is the ideal place to kick start the pilot project with the first service to Prince Albert however the benefits are far beyond Saskatoon’s boundaries. Prince Albert has a population of nearly 40,000 and a total of 140,000 in it trading area who all will benefit from this connection.
How can we stop the downward spiral trend of declining population beyond our metro centers?
The trend towards decline in services in rural areas is continuing and is practically irreversible. There are a number of technological options being implemented to provide services to rural areas, but technology can’t substitute for human contact. Regional, intermittent service centres in smaller cities and towns are declining in attractiveness, asthey increasingly fall short of full-service centres. It requires vision and strong will to slow and possibly halt this nearly universal downward spiral. Our proposal does exactly that, by increased and expanded use of the rail system, that will benefit Saskatchewan by making the metro based services and supplies more accessible to rural populations, individuals, farmers and businesses more sustainable by connecting rural population to urban centers.
What are some of the advantages of using rail infrastructure instead of driving from rural areas?
High speed rail Infrastructure offers the convenience and flexibility to access downtowns and urban centers in less time as compared to buses or cars. It also reduces the dependence on roads, weather, adequate downtown parking and on driving personal vehicles.
How would a provincial rail network help existing population and help in Saskatchewan’s growth plan?
A high speed railway network in Saskatchewan will connect nearly all cities and towns serving as sub supply centresin the province. Just imagine the effect only a single train would have on rural areas arriving in the morning and leaving the city at night, daily, seven days a week, all the time. Saskatchewan already has a vast rail/road system of the provincial and national bulk good and container transportation system on which we would piggy-back, which has to be maintained, modernized and expanded to meet the needs of an expanding provincial economy regardless. One of the main drivers of Saskatchewan’s growth plan will be immigrants who will be settling in the province over the coming decades. The addition of high-speed network will enable these new residents to settle in rural centers (due to affordability) and help revitalize the economy of smaller cities and towns.
How difficult is it to start a high speed railway network using existing infrastructure?
Due to the existing loop, it is relatively simple for the implementation of a passenger rail network from the city of Saskatoon all the way to Prince Albert.
What is this loop?
The loop is a rail spur line running around the City Core and within the Circle Drive North and West.
- The loop is made up of both CNR and CPR rail line sections, currently, inter-connecting the two CNR mainlines, one running east-west through Warman and the other running east-west south of the City through the CN Chapelle
- Currently, a gap exists in the loop where previously a rail connection existed between the CPR mainline and the CNR inter-connecting line from Warman to the Chapelle The gap is located north of the old CPR station and the CNR inter-connecting line located north-east of Woodlawn Cemetery.
- Rail travel to Prince Albert would require loop closure and our proposal sees construction of a new line from south of the old CPR station alongside the CPR main line and joining the existing CNR inter-connecting spur north-east of Woodlawn. This would permit rail travel on all rail lines emanating from Saskatoon going into all major directions of the company.
What are other factors that are slowing down the growth in our rural population?
Some of the main reasons why our rural areas are suffering include an aging population that is not being revitalized with younger generations staying there or moving to these rural areas due to lack of attractive jobs and broad-based services, that are primarily located in urban center. Critical services such as medical services are generally not delivered, instead they must be obtained, picked up and travelled to, therefore people find their individual solutions by moving to the top service centres like Saskatoon and Regina.
What is the urgency to build this infrastructure right now when Saskatoon’s population is not even 500,000, isn’t that when most cities start looking at rail infrastructure?
Our proposal is directed at rural Saskatchewan. In Canada, North America, indeed worldwide, rural areas have generally not been focal points, an error we wish to avoid. Most cities have admittedly been too late in planning this infrastructure as it is very difficult to build this infrastructure in already congested areas.
Saskatoon has a unique advantage of existing connectivity in all eight directions (N, S, E, W, NE, NW, SE and SW), an advantage that few of the other metropolitan cities in Canada have. Building a transportation hub in Saskatoon to connect rural populations to the metro area, while there is still opportunity and while the metro area is still growing is the right time to invest in infrastructure. This would be a game changer that will bring more people downtown without cars and coming from the entire Saskatoon region trade and services areas.
How will a new central station help Saskatoon downtown?
Downtowns are the places where roads converge, trains stop and people meet, where many exclusive services are provided and goods exchanged. Therefore, downtowns are or ought to be very special places. Saskatoon Downtown once was a special place – people wanted to be there, needed to go there, and were able to get there. Gradually, over several decades, all three conditions have changed and Saskatoon Downtown is now, like many others, struggling to hold its own. It is still time before already present centrifugal forces have diluted the downtown even further to accommodate the car driving urban and rural clientele.
The city of Saskatoon is already planning to revive downtown by means of an arena and entertainment district. Why do we need to add this to the mix?
The City believes that an Arena and Entertainment District will provide the spark to change the trajectory toward future prosperity. The question many people ask is whether that expensive single step can be the catalyst toward new vitality in the downtown. The addition of an Arena might help, if we were not continuing to lose unique, one-of-a-kind services to more accessible suburban locations. This trend continues to also move people from outer urbanareas, satellite cities and the rural areas of Saskatchewan away from Downtown. Connectivity and transportation to downtown is a challenge that is still not being addressed in this plan. Therefore, a Central Station, in conjunction with the planned Arena and Entertainment District will be a true catalyst in bringing people from within Metro Saskatoon and beyond into the core Downtown area, leading to symbiotic economic and social prosperity. The combination of an Arena and Entertainment District along with a central terminus would also be make it attractive for private investments and branding.
I do not like existing rail-lines in downtown as they slow down the traffic. Wouldn’t this proposal make it worse for commuting to/from downtown?
Despite efforts to have them moved, rail lines wont go away. Initial Surveying data has been completed and it suggests that a Central Station in Saskatoon Downtown can be built in the vicinity to the old STC building. It will cause no disruptions to existing traffic and will provide access and connect all rural communities directly to Downtown Saskatoon. Downtown will return to be a destination away from the trend of becoming a thoroughfare.
What would be the specifics of a new Saskatoon terminus?
Saskatoon would use spaces previously used for rail transportation and that are still available. The terminus wouldbe bilevel with the trains elevated to not block existing road traffic, also making good use of sloping terrain. The terminus would be fully accessible and give an entirely new look and new perspectives to the city, its trade and service areas and the province.