Year in Review 2018: October’s big news included cannabis legalization and two bridge openings in Saskatoon

In our Year in Review series, The Saskatoon StarPhoenix looks back on the stories that affected residents the most in 2018.

New bridges open

Mayor Charlie Clark remembered it as a line on a map six years before, and part of a long-term vision. In October, the Chief Mistawasis Bridge became a reality — and open to the public.

“Today is the culmination of many years of planning and preparation,” Clark said. Hundreds of people — including former mayor Don Atchison and former city manager Murray Totland — gathered for the grand opening of the bridge.

The Chief Mistawasis Bridge and the rebuilt Traffic Bridge were celebrated in separate ceremonies.

The Chief Mistawasis Bridge connects the eastern edge, where the city expects much of its future residential expansion, with the North Industrial area, where much of the city’s employment growth is projected. The extensions of McOrmond and Central provide a nearby South Saskatchewan River crossing for developing neighbourhoods like Brighton, Evergreen and Aspen Ridge.

The rebuilt Traffic Bridge remains controversial because many wanted to see a bridge for only pedestrians and cyclists. In September 2010, a month after the 1907 structure was condemned for good, city council voted 6-5 to narrow the options to preclude consideration of a bridge that could not accommodate vehicles.

The Traffic Bridge opening in Saskatoon, Oct. 2, 2018.

 

Cannabis becomes legal

When Jimmy’s Cannabis in Martensville opened its doors for the first time at 11 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2018 — the day cannabis became legal in Canada — Allan Kennedy had already been waiting outside the door for more than an hour to be one of the first inside.

“Definitely worth waiting in line,” Kennedy said.

Jimmy’s Cannabis was the only new shop in the Saskatoon area that was ready to open on the day pot became legal. The biggest issue for stores in Saskatoon was supply and inventory, but Jimmy’s Cannabis received its shipment in time for its grand opening.

None of the seven cannabis retailers licensed to operate in Saskatoon were up and running on Oct. 17. There were also no shops in operation in Regina.

 

Massive house sells

A massive house and piece of land listed for sale on Saskatoon Kijiji sold for $550,000. Auction staff said it was a once in a lifetime item.

The unfinished mansion sits on a 160-acre estate complete with cultivated land, south of Highway 3 between the towns of Weldon and Kinistino. An online bidder from British Columbia bought it during an auction at Ritchie Brothers Auctions in Saskatoon. The auction took less than ten minutes.

This 12,000-square-foot unfinished mansion near Kinistino, Sask., went on the auction block Oct. 11, 2018. (Ritchie Bros. Auction photo for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

Luke Fritshaw, regional sales manage for Ritchie Brothers, said the sale price was higher than expected. Despite the fact the house was valued at $2.5 million, both the auction house and the sellers are pleased with the results, as the structure requires a lot of work, he said.

“There’s a lot of money that still needs to be spent on that house and not everyone is ready to just jump into a half-built house and spend a whole pile of money. The price, I think, reflects still what needs to be done,” Fritshaw said.

“There’s been millions and millions spent on that house, but you have to have the right person that’s going to spend millions and millions more to live in that area.”

 

Judge rules on funds

A special committee tasked with divvying up the funds raised by a multimillion-dollar GoFundMe campaign for the people affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash does not need to limit payouts to expenses incurred by players and families, a Saskatoon judge ruled.

The independent five-person committee was expected to submit a report in November outlining how the $15.2 million in financial donations should be divided. In advance of that deadline, the committee asked a judge for clarification around whether the GoFundMe dollars are limited to covering uninsured expenses incurred by the 13 players who were injured and the families of the 16 people who died in the April 6 crash.

Jeff Lee, the lawyer who represents the Humboldt Broncos Memorial Fund that was created to oversee distribution of the money, put the issue forward in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench.

He told Justice Neil Gabrielson that the expenses of the players and families would amount to less than $15.2 million.

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