The Swale is an ancient river channel scar approximately 26 kilometres long and 2,800 hectares. It is the result of the post-glacial South Saskatchewan River carving a path through the landscape, evolving over time into a unique geological, hydrological and ecological area. It is a diverse landscape of rare native prairie, riparian areas and wetlands that provides strong natural connectivity to the river and other adjacent areas.
Human activity and urban growth will have long term impacts on the Swale. Comprehensive planning and ongoing resource management are necessary to conserve this valuable resource.
With this in mind, the Meewasin Northeast Swale Master Plan was developed by Meewasin in collaboration with the City of Saskatoon to support conservation, education and passive recreation while integrating this rare and natural area into the growing urban form. The plan was developed specifically for the Swale within city limits (300 hectares, 5 kilometres long) with the intent that the overall design ideas and recommendations be scalable for the remainder of the Swale and could be applied to similar sites.
The Master Plan’s design objectives include conserving biodiversity, supporting passive recreation, accommodating education and research, interpreting history and supporting a communications plan. Further considerations include maintaining site connectivity and nocturnal light levels, providing pedestrian connections to adjacent areas and public safety and accessibility. To meet these objectives, proposed amenities include interpretation of existing features, over 16 kilometres of trails (the Greenway and internal trails), over 7 kilometres of fencing, and an Outdoor Education Staging Area.
Ongoing collaboration with Meewasin’s funding partners will be necessary to determine a sound funding strategy for implementation, operation and life cycle replacement. The Master Plan has now been endorsed by the Meewasin Valley Authority and the City of Saskatoon. This document is now a mutually accepted plan that outlines the framework for ongoing planning and development in the Swale.
The internal secondary trails within the ecological core have been mown along their proposed alignments. This allows for improved access for tours and resource management, and allows us to assess the suitability of the alignment prior to full development.
The City of Saskatoon has approved funding to begin implementation of Phase 1 and 2 of the Master Plan, which includes fencing, trail development, and restoration of disturbed areas at the storm-water dry and wet pond north of the Evergreen neighbourhood. Work will be proceeding in 2017 with a three-year implementation planned.
Design work is now underway for the first section of Greenway along the Aspen Ridge neighbourhood. Plans are to build this section in 2017.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about this project.