Call to Action

We all spoke up for the Swales, and City Council listened, sort of.

Over the last several weeks, City Council has received more than two hundred letters from concerned residents, all urging them NOT to endorse Saskatchewan Highway’s Functional Design Report for Phase 2 of the Saskatoon Freeway. Although Council has not acted on this advice (at least not yet,) they did pass a motion instructing the mayor to request clarification from the provincial government about its commitment to protecting the Swales.

The issue will return to Council for decision once the province has replied. We will keep you fully informed.

We urge you to to contact your Councillor to discuss this issue. Find your Councillor and email them here.

The motion to defer was supported by Councillors Block, Gough, Loewen, Gersher, Kirton and Clark, with Councillors Donauer, Davies, Jeffries and Dubois opposed. Read the minutes here.

The motion reads as follows: Moved by Councillor Block, Seconded by Councillor Gough. That City Council ask Mayor Clark to send a letter to the provincial government requesting guiding principles for how the environmental mitigation opportunities identified in the Phase 2 Functional Design Plan and the Biological Assessment, as well as the future Environmental Impact Assessment, would be implemented …and that the province be asked to do this work as soon as possible to provide certainty for the future development in and around the Saskatoon region.

Phase 2 of the proposed Saskatoon Freeway is a 27-kilometer-long segment of divided highway that would arc around the eastern outskirts of the city and then swing west, through future neighbourhoods and the Swales, to cross the South Saskatchewan River about a kilometer north of Chief Mistawasis bridge.

The province’s lack of commitment to protecting the Swales is indicated by their intention to expand the roadway from its standard width of 4 lanes to 8 lanes (4 each way) where it crosses the Northeast Swale and then to 10 lanes (5 each way) where it crosses the Small Swale, causing irredeemable damage to both of these valuable natural areas. Although the proposed route has been tweaked slightly, ostensibly to protect the Northeast Swale, there is no evidence that this small change would have any real benefit.  

In presenting the motion, Councillor Block said, “I would really prefer to be able to competently say ‘yes’  to this alignment but for me it will need some reassurances that this is not just [the province saying] “we are setting lofty goals” but rather [that they are] making a commitment – a serious commitment – about protecting the Swales.”

Swale Watchers’ Advice to City Council

Based on our careful study of the documents, Swale Watchers have two urgent recommendations for Saskatoon City Council:

1. Given that the Biological Assessment and the Functional Planning Study for Phase 2 of the Saskatoon Freeway demonstrate that irreversible harm would befall the Northeast and Small Swales—two of Saskatoon’s most valuable and valued natural areas—if the project proceeds as planned, we urge you NOT to endorse the Functional Planning Study for Phase 2 of the Saskatoon Freeway.

2. Recognizing that the ultimate authority over where, when or if this project is completed lies with the province, rather than with the City of Saskatoon, we urge you to call on the Government of Saskatchewan to choose a route for the Saskatoon Freeway that does not intrude on the Swales and to guarantee that the project will be subject to a thorough, impartial Environmental Impact Assessment.

 

Did you know?

The Saskatoon Freeway is a provincial highway project. Funding for construction will be determined by the provincial government.

Species at Risk that could be affected by the Saskatoon Freeway

  • horned grebe
  • short-eared owl
  • common nighthawk
  • yellow rail
  • loggerhead shrike
  • northern leopard frog
  • bobolink
  • American badger
  • crowfoot violet
  • marsh felwort
  • plains rough fescue
  • American germander
  • And more…

How to submit a letter or request to speak

The issue will return to Council for decision once the province has replied. We will keep you fully informed. Meanwhile, we urge you to write to your Councillor to discuss this issue. Contact them here.

Submit a letter to the City Counil in support of the Swale Watchers’ recommendations. Or request to speak in person (limit of 5 minutes) at the DATE TO BE DETERMINED meeting. You must submit your letter (an example letter is further down the page) and/or request to speak no later than date to be determined.

When filling out the form please fill in the following:

Name of the organization or agency you are representing (if applicable):
If you are writing a letter on behalf of an organization put your organization name here, otherwise leave this space blank.

If you are requesting to speak please do not put Swale Watchers as we can only have one representative speak. You can speak on behalf of your organization or as an individual.

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

What agenda item do you wish to comment on?
Saskatoon Freeway Planning Study – Phase 2 

Note that you can either attach a Word document/PDF letter to the form or put your comments/letter directly into the comments box.

Example letter:

Dear Committee Members, 

The Northeast and Small Swales are refuges for nature and for the people of Saskatoon. These ribbons of native grassland and natural wetlands support an astonishing abundance of life, including at least 49 species so rare that they are listed as Species of Conservation Concern. In a time of ever worsening biodiversity losses, natural areas of this diversity and importance should be protected from development.

Instead, City Council has been asked to endorse a plan, developed by the provincial Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, that would drive multiple lanes of high-speed traffic through both Swales. The damage and degradation this development would cause is well documented.

I am writing with two requests:

1. Please DO NOT to endorse the Functional Planning Study for Phase 2 of the Saskatoon Freeway.

2. Please DO call on the Ministry of Highways to choose a route for the Saskatoon Freeway that does not intrude on the Swales and to guarantee that the project will be subject to a thorough, impartial Environmental Impact Assessment

Sincerely, 

Get in touch with us

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The Swale Watchers gratefully acknowledge that we live and work on Treaty Six territory and the homeland of the Metis Nation.

© 2024 Swale Watchers

Photos By: Muhammad Zain Ul Abideen & Meghan Mickelson