Saskatoon’s northwest neighbourhoods of Hudson Bay Park, Caswell Hill and Mayfair are intersected and connected by 33rd Street West, a single lane, east-west road nestled between elm trees and a variety of private businesses.
The street is lined with a patchwork of buildings; some are 1930s-era houses, some could serve as small warehouses and some host three or four businesses in one building. The area is anchored by a small Safeway store that looks to be a hub of activity. Despite the street’s small-town feel, Nicola Tabb and Judy Denham see room for improvement. The two business owners are among a group of 16 whose application to the city for a business improvement district (BID) was approved Monday by the city’s finance committee.
According to the city, a BID functions to support “economic diversity and prosperity; specifically the long-term strategy of working with local businesses to promote Saskatoon as a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
Judy Denham’s family has deep roots in the area. Her Flag Shop is one of two original businesses there. Her grandfather started what was first Denham Window Cleaners in 1947.
“Thirty-third Street has gone through various transitions. My family started here a long time ago. The area has had its ups and downs and its transitions,” she said.
“The street has had a bit of a bad reputation with things like low-income housing and rougher crowds known for loitering around. There were also massage parlours.”
Denham said she’s excited about the BID and its potential to help beautify the neighbourhood.
“I’ve heard from community members that they’re really excited about being a BID. It gives them assurance that the businesses here are concerned about the community and street,” she said. Denham and Tabb included a list of changes in the application they submitted to the city: street art, benches, flower pots, garbage cans and ashtrays, advertising and banners marking the area.
“It has a nice small-town vibe. There are lots of independent, locally owned businesses here,” said Tabb, who owns Better Off Duds.
She has lived in Caswell Hill and Mayfair over the last 10 years and has owned her clothing store on 33rd Street for two and a half years.
“The locally owned businesses help define and maintain character in the neighbourhood. They’re invested in the future of it,” she said.
Tabb was one of the key organizers in getting the BID application started and getting other businesses involved with the process. She said the last thing she wants is to see 33rd Street turned into a through way for busy traffic heading west to Circle Drive. That’s why she and her neighbours have addressed parking in their application with the city, she said. Regardless of what happens with parking meters, Denham and Tabb agreed the street must at least maintain its current parking spots. They said that contributes to the needed pedestrian traffic that lend it the small-town feel.
City officials will now prepare a bylaw for consideration at a public hearing into the BID application.
“This is a very good thing to see with the community coming together on 33rd,” Randy Pshebylo, executive director of the Riversdale BID, told Monday’s finance committee meeting. “It’s an exciting time to start this up.”