Arena talks in downtown Saskatoon continue to escalate with the addition of a technical advisor for the project. Stantec has been tapped by the city to oversee the potential ice district, which would change the landscape of downtown.The engineering consulting firm has been brought in to study the effect an arena would have on the city.“Part of our study with the city of Saskatoon is to be able to look at the trajectory of the downtown, and look at what are the best practices that might be brought to bear on the downtown to make sure the downtown is set up for success tomorrow,” said Simon O’Byrne, the senior vice-president of Stantec. Story continues below advertisement O’Byrne was on hand this past week to engage with Saskatoon residents and answer questions about the development process.He said some of the key issues he heard from residents were related to traffic and parking issues, very similar to what the firm saw when it was brought in for Edmonton’s Ice District.“What we found is that all those kinds of anxieties and fears we had about downtown parking and transportation was really (not much) of a worry,” he explained.O’Byrne said Edmonton’s downtown was meant to handle large volumes of people working and events usually happen when the business crowd has largely left the area.Stantec’s study will assess the evolution of downtown Saskatoon, with a focus on urban vibrancy and economic investment. 4:15 Planning progresses on proposed downtown Saskatoon arena On top of the stadium, O’Byrne mentioned the Remai Modern Art Gallery, heritage buildings and the future Bus Rapid Transit system as ways to bring people to the downtown core. Trending Now Story continues below advertisement “The city has a whole bunch of tools at its disposal, and so what the city has to do — and this isn’t just Saskatoon, but all cities — need to leverage all the tools at its disposal to figure out how we create vibrancy in our downtown,” O’Byrne said.For councillor Cynthia Block, she holds a similar sentiment as O’Byrne.“The district will broaden the perspective of downtown development,” Block said. “It will be a destination for our city, our province and beyond. It is also a strategic plan to drive density to the core and help Saskatoon become a more efficient city.”O’Byrne also says congestion downtown may be a sign of success rather than failure.He believes congestion means more people on sidewalks, which means more people downtown for business and shopping. O’Bryne argues more people can also lead to a focus on public safety.For O’Byrne, the project is not about a downtown arena but what the city wants for its growth.“Saskatoon really is a story that’s still being written,” he said. “I get to see a lot of parts of North America through my job and even Europe, I really am excited about the trajectory that Saskatchewan’s on.” Story continues below advertisement 1:30 Saskatoon city council looking to buy up land ahead of arena construction © 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.