Saskatoon city council is expected to decide whether or not to approve an estimated $220,000 worth of roadworks to accommodate a new grocery store downtown when it meets on May 24.
The Pitchfork Market + Kitchen grocery store that Arbutus Properties is planning for the Midtown Plaza shopping mall would feature a full-service store and a licensed restaurant, with prepared meals for takeout. It’s tentatively scheduled to open in the winter of 2023.
The nearby roadworks are seen as a key component of the development, according to Murray Totland, director of planning for Arbutus Properties.
Earlier this month, councilors on the city’s transportation committee voted in favor of installing full traffic signals at Auditorium Avenue and Idylwyld Drive, removing the median on Idylwyld between Auditorium Avenue and 22nd Street and installing a traffic island at 21st Street and Idylwyld Drive.
The committee said the changes would only be made once the grocery store reaches a certain point in construction.
“That intersection change is important to us,” Totland said. “We believe it’s critical to this store’s success.”
He said he was confident that the council would agree to the changes.
A previous request for a tax abatement for the store has been withdrawn, Totland said. During the committee meeting, administration said the grocery store was not eligible for a tax abatement and that Midtown Plaza already receives one.
“We’re not looking for handouts,” Totland said. “We have a number of projects in the city underway. And I think there’s other opportunities for the city to support us.”
The construction of a grocery store in the city’s downtown has long been a priority for council. Academics have called inner-city Saskatoon a food desert, with few options for residents.
The issue will also be discussed at the next council meeting on Tuesday.