Saskatoon

Swale Watchers ask city, province for more info on Saskatoon freeway project

Environmentalists in Saskatoon have long been advocating for the protection of the Northeast Swale and another smaller swale in the same area. A freeway project proposed by the province would cut through the wetlands and require a new bridge.

The Saskatoon freeway is a provincial project the city wants to learn more about

Plans call for freeway construction across Saskatoon's northeast swale, an ecologically sensitive area north of the new Evergreen subdivision, and east of the South Saskatchewan River. (CBC)

Environmentalists in Saskatoon have long been advocating for the protection of the Northeast Swale and another smaller swale in the same area.

Now they are calling for more information on a freeway project proposed by the province that would cut through the wetlands and require a new bridge.

"We have something very valued. We need to make sure that we do we look after it and not just have a facade that we're doing something," said Northeast Swale Watchers chair Louise Jones.

The last time the marshy land was bisected by a bridge, it raised issues like speed limits and corridors for wildlife.

Louise Jones chairs the Northeast Swale Watchers group in Saskatoon. (CBC)

The latest provincial budget includes funds dedicated to a feasibility study for the project, which would run around the perimeter of the quickly-expanding city.

On Monday, the city's environment, utilities and corporate services committee voted to further examine the project. Seven letters urging the city to study the impact of a Saskatoon freeway project were submitted at Monday's meeting.

Wetland is 'very vulnerable': Jones

Administration will look into what kind of resources might be needed to protect the area beloved by the Swale Watchers and explore the potential effects of a freeway on cultural heritage. The committee also put forward a recommendation to hear more from the province.

Ward 8 councillor Sarina Gersher ìs the chair of Saskatoon's environmental, utilities and corporate service standing policy committee. (Submitted by SarinaGersher)

"There is a stakeholder group that exists. The city has a voice at that table and members the Swale Watchers have a voice at that table. But we wanted more information as a committee on how will that process work and how do we get our feedback through that way," said Sarina Gersher, the committee's chair.

The city's report will take a few months to be completed.

The part of the freeway that would cross the Northeast swale is within a kilometre of McOrmond Drive.

The other, smaller swale the freeway would also cross is close to McOrmond as well. Jones said it is just as ecologically significant as the larger swale.

She said she would like to see the freeway rerouted just a bit further away from the marshes.

"It would be right through both the soil conservation zone and what is known as a small swale, which is a very vulnerable and valuable native wetland grassland," she said.

About the Author

Bridget Yard

Reporter

Bridget Yard is a video journalist based in Saskatoon. She has also worked for CBC in Fredericton and Bathurst, N.B.