Swale Boundaries – Call to Action

Decision Day is Wednesday, February 22, but the window for public comments closes at 5 pm on Monday, February 20. If there was ever a moment when your voice mattered, this is it. You’ll find full how-to instructions for contacting City Council at the end of this page.

Saskatoon City Council is in the process of setting boundaries for the Small and Northeast Swales, as a step toward the design and construction of a new neighbourhood, University Heights III. 

City administration is asking Council to choose one of three options. Sadly, none of these proposals is adequate to protect the long-term health and ecological integrity of the Swales:

Option 1 derives unchanged from the Natural Area Screening (NAS) study that was commissioned by the developer, Saskatoon Land.
Option 2 is also based on the NAS study but with a couple of minuscule additions to the protected area. It was developed by the City’s Long-range Planning division.
Option 3 is an improvement on Options 1 and 2 because it incorporates a few more small areas of quality habitat. It was put forward by the Meewasin Valley Authority.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Last week, these options were considered by a subcommittee of Council, the Standing Policy Committee on Planning, Development and Community Services. To their credit, the Councillors on the planning committee chose to support Option 3. Unfortunately, even the best of these options leaves many crucial problems unresolved. Specifically, the city’s proposals all

• Fail to provide optimal protection for the sharp-tailed grouse dancing ground in the Northeast Swale.
• Fail to safeguard the wetlands in the hydrologically sensitive Small Swale, and
• Fail to provide viable habitat linkages between the Small and Northeast Swales and between the Northeast Swale and the river valley. Providing these connections is absolutely crucial to maintaining the health of the Swales and the species who live there.

In sum, we believe that the City’s plan would lead to further and potentially ruinous damage and loss to these unique natural features. The value of ecological services provided by these areas (estimated at over $700,000 annually for the Small Swale alone) would be put at risk.

Everyone agrees that this is not the future we want. We all want these miraculous fragments of grasslands and wetlands to thrive, for the sake of the hundreds of species that rely on them for survival. For the sake of our own wellbeing. For the sake of future generations.

Swale Watchers are proud to present a forward-looking vision based on the principles of Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design. Our plan foregrounds the long-term health of the Swales and, at the same time, provides an opportunity for the City of Saskatoon to fulfill its goal of growing in harmony with nature. We have identified 260 acres that could be dedicated to low-to-mid density urban development, generously bounded by conservation zones.

    • The Swale Protected Area includes all remaining natural grasslands and areas of high biodiversity value, as documented in recent studies. No significant development would be permitted in the Protected Area.
    • The Swale Borders includes buffers and wildlife corridors necessary to safeguard the ecological and hydrological functioning of the Protected Area. “Soft” development such as trails, linear parks, storm water ponds and other amenities could be situated in the naturalized Swale Borders.

We hope you will find this vision exciting and worthy of your support.

The Swale Watchers’ recommendations have been endorsed the Saskatchewan Chapter of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Saskatchewan, Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, Nature Saskatchewan, the UN Regional Center for Excellence for Education on Sustainable Development, the Saskatoon Nature Society, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, SOS Trees, Wild About Saskatoon, and Walking Saskatoon.


If you are able, please submit a letter in support of the Swale Watchers boundaries at the link below, or request to speak in person (limit of 5 minutes) at the February 22 meeting. You must submit your letter and or request to speak no later than Mon February 20 by 5pm. View the agenda here.


When filling out the form please follow the below directions:

Name of the organization or agency you are representing (if applicable): Please leave this blank as we can only have one representative speak on behalf of the Swale Watchers, everyone else will need to speak as individuals

What meeting do you wish to speak/submit comments? (if known): Regular Business Meeting of City Council

What agenda item do you wish to comment on? 9.3.1

In addition to the above, you may also choose to write directly to your city councillor, contact forms are available on each Councillors page https://www.saskatoon.ca/city-hall/mayor-city-councillors/city-councillors-wards


Thank you for your speaking up for beauty, for life and for a livable future.

Meghan Mickelson and Candace Savage, co-chairs