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WintercityYXE Strategy

WintercityYXE Banner Image

North American cities that experience cold, dark and snowy winters are developing new ways to help residents embrace the winter months. The concept of designing a “winter city” is about drawing focus and access to the wonderful things winter brings while reducing the barriers. The outcome can be a more accessible, inclusive, active, prosperous and livable community during the coldest months of the year.

WintercityYXE Vision

Saskatoon is a vibrant, prosperous and dynamic community that thrives during winter months and works together to support an active winter lifestyle that is inclusive and accessible for all.

A Strategy for All

WintercityYXE celebrates what makes Saskatoon an inviting, vibrant, safe and prosperous place in winter. It will help residents, businesses, organizations and visitors embrace winter with enthusiasm, while recognizing the challenges that vulnerable populations face during the winter months. It is facilitated through the City’s leadership and by engaging the interest and efforts of the community.

 WintercityYXE - Saskatoon's Winter Strategy serves as a roadmap to turn this vision into a reality. During the development of the strategy, community members shared their winter experiences and made recommendations on how to achieve this shared vision. Experiences are influenced by individual circumstances like age, mobility, economic situations and many others. Strategy actions are intended to guide future steps on a citywide level by both the City and the community to achieve our shared vision as a winter city.

The  WintercityYXE Background Report supports the formal Strategy and outlines how the Strategy was developed. 

WintercityYXE Themes

The strategy is built around three main themes:  Winter Economy, Winter Life & Culture and Winter Design. Specific objectives, desired outcomes and actions are identified for each theme in  WintercityYXE - Saskatoon's Winter Strategy

Winter Economy:  How can we address challenges associated with winter to create a more vibrant economy in the winter?
Winter Life & Culture: 

How can we celebrate the inviting and fun quality of life we have in Saskatoon, even in the coldest months of the year?

How can we build enthusiasm for winter, take advantage of opportunities and tell the story of our winter city?

How can we support vulnerable populations during the winter months?

Winter Design:   How can we improve community comfort and accessibility for everyone, even in the ice and snow?

Implementation Plan 

The  WintercityYXE Implementation Plan is intended to provide guidance on applying the WintercityYXE Strategy. Community members contributed to the Plan by providing input for each Strategy action. The WintercityYXE Implementation Plan Comprehensive Engagement Report captures the feedback on where there may be gaps once the draft Plan was completed. 

For each Strategy action, the Plan includes information on:

  • What support is in place to implement the action
  • Which partners are best positioned to implement the action
  • How success wil be measured
  • The expected timeline for implementing the action
  • Funding needs, both current and future

Next Steps

Community members provided recommendations on next steps for each WintercityYXE Strategy action. A list of these recommendations is provided in the Implementation Plan's  What We Heard Report and will be shared with appropriate groups for consideration as each action item advances. Actions that require City funding or resource supports will be addressed through the City's regular budget process including continuing support for the WintercityYXE Program. Regular progress updates will be provided to Council. 

Quick Wins

In addition to developing the Strategy and Implementation Plan, WintercityYXE has implemented a number of "quick win" initiatives to celebrate the winter season in Saskatoon:

2019/2020 Winter Season

Decorative Lighting Support

WintercityYXE has provided $50,000 in funding support for the City's decorative lighting program.  As a result of this funding, new decorative lighting is expected to be in place for Winter 2020/2021.  

WintercityYXE Grant Program

As part of the WintercityYXE Strategy, a total of $25,000 is allocated to non-profit organizations, ad hoc groups, businesses or for-profit organizations implementing initiatives that support the WintercityYXE goals and objectives.   Visit WintercityYXE Grants webpage for more information.

Ice Installation

WintercityYXE supported an ice installation which interacted with the Western Peace Wall in the Broadway Business Improvement District in December 2019.

2018/2019 Winter Season

Winter Cities Shake Up Conference

From January 23 to 26, 2019, the International Winter Cities Shake Up Conference was hosted in Saskatoon.  The conference was pursued by the community as an opportunity to accelerate the development of the WintercityYXE Strategy and to provide valuable learnings for its content by bringing internal expertise into the discussion.   

Ice Sculptures in Business Improvement Districts

Ice sculptures were placed around Saskatoon to celebrate our vibrant winter culture. These local pieces were designed in collaboration with students from Aden Bowman Collegiate. ​​

 Watch this WintercityYXE video about how ice sculptures are created

WintercityYXE Grant Program

As part of the WintercityYXE Strategy, a total of $25,000 is allocated to non-profit organizations, ad hoc groups, businesses or for-profit organizations implementing initiatives that support the WintercityYXE goals and objectives.   Visit WintercityYXE Grants webpage for more information.​

2017/2018 Winter Season

Warming Huts

In 2018, we borrowed two warming huts from our friends at The Forks in Winnipeg. They hold an international hut design competition every year, and the huts go out on their river as a wind break. They loaned us two of their huts as a pilot program in Saskatoon—all part of our WintercityYXE Strategy. 

Rope PavilionRope Pavilion

by Kevin Erickson and Allison Warren, New York, NY

Through the combination of simple materials, ROPE pavilion creates a highly articulated form and space while nestling itself into the landscape. Its relationship of skin – manila rope and  structure –   birch frame, merge to form a warming hut whose dense shell blocks winter winds while still being perforated for light and views. The wood interior creates a sense of warmth through color and texture and its multilayered rope exterior collects snow, further embedding it within the site. The hut’s dome-like form is optimized for heat retention, bifurcating only for an entry threshold and oculus to the sky above.



by Robert B. Trempe Jr, Nebraska, USA

This “Shelterbelt” seeks to reimagine the qualities of these windbreakers through an environment of steel rebar. Several hundred steel stalks of varying lengths are anchored vertically to a base, creating a protective screen. Two entrances/exits allow indirect access, but the full interior (including seating) is only truly visible once inside the environment, creating a secret world for its occupants. Wind and the movement and interaction of those inside the installation causes the rebar to oscillate and collide, creating an almost constant metallic rustle; a sound field becomes an audible landmark and a sonic envelop for its inhabitants.



In April 2018, WintercityYXE hosted Sabine De Schutter, a lighting designer from Berlin to give a talk about how we use light. Her presentation gave an overview of the potential and the risks of light through temporary and permanent projects.  For more details, a copy of her presentation is linked here.   


WintercityYXE Video 


WintercityYXE Photo Gallery

These photos portray just a few ways in which Saskatoon is already a great winter city!  Share your own winter photos at #WintercityYXE on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.