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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Implications of railway relocation in Western Canadian cities : Saskatoon, a case study. Lainsbury, John Michael

Abstract

This thesis is a study of railway relocation and subsequent commercial redevelopment in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The primary purpose of the study is to test the hypothesis that railway relocation in a western Canadian city could prove beneficial to such a City in terms of community objectives. The City of Saskatoon is utilized as a case study. A secondary purpose, upon validation of the hypothesis, is to attempt the use of Saskatoon's experience as a bench-mark in determining the feasibility of railway relocation in other Saskatchewan cities. In order to place the City in its proper historical and developmental context, the history of Saskatoon is briefly traced from its origin in 1882 to the present. This review pictures Saskatoon as a dynamic urban center with a relatively bright future. A detailed review of events and negotiations leading up to the joint decision by the City and the C.N.R. to relocate railway facilities from downtown Saskatoon indicates that the primary community objectives involved were consolidation of the downtown area and improvement of access to the downtown area. These and other objectives are discussed in detail and analyzed in terms of their relevance and where possible, in terms of the magnitude of costs associated with achievement of a particular objective. The impact of the commercial development proposed for construction in the area vacated by the C.N.R. is demonstrated in terms of its effect on the supply of downtown retail space as opposed to the projected demand. On the basis of certain explicit assumptions, this analysis predicts an excess supply of retail floor space for a period of eight years. Quantifiable costs and benefits to the City attributable to relocation are compared with the resulting conclusion that, on the basis of current estimates, benefits accruing from relocation will yield a 9½% return on the City's investment by 1984. A subjective evaluation of non-quantifiable costs and benefits results in the further conclusion that benefits will again exceed costs. The aggregate conclusion, which validates the hypothesis, is that railway relocation in Saskatoon will prove beneficial to the City in terms of community objectives. The key factors which led to consideration of railway relocation in Saskatoon and which made the project viable were the dynamic nature of the city; the relative location of railway facilities; demand for retail space, and the location of railway rights-of-way relative to the location of required traffic facilities. These factors are tested against four other cities in Saskatchewan; Regina, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and Swift Current. Of the four, only Regina is consistantly comparable to Saskatoon, leading to the conclusion that detailed investigation of railway relocation from downtown Regina is warranted.It is further concluded that railway relocation from other Canadian cities might be equally feasible, and certainly worthy of further study.

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