Saskatoon's Green Network provides people and wildlife with access to continuous, high quality green spaces and natural areas in our city. It includes features such as parks, trees, gardens, wetlands, and naturalized areas. It also supports cultural and community activities, such as recreation, education, ceremonial use, and food production.
The Green Network Analysis completed in 2019 found that Saskatoon's Green Network is 11,150 hectares in size, or almost half of the city's footprint. This includes 3,068 hectares of natural areas (grasslands, wetlands, forest/shrubland); 2,185 hectares of parks, green spaces, and rights-of-way; and an average of 10% tree canopy across the city.
The value of our Green Network
“Natural Infrastructure” grows, whereas “Grey Infrastructure” (e.g. roads, sidewalks, pipes) is made of hard materials such as concrete, steel, and asphalt. Natural infrastructure can be used in place of or in combination with grey infrastructure to enhance the resilience, performance, and lifespan of our City’s infrastructure. It can also provide several benefits, such as:
- Environmental benefits: provides habitat, supports biodiversity, and enhances air, water and soil quality.
- Social and cultural benefits: creates opportunities for recreation, physical activity, education, community, and ceremony.
- Health and safety benefits: supports flood and erosion control, shade/cooling, climate change resilience, and food production.
- Economic benefits: creates jobs, attracts tourism, and can lead to cost savings.
Part of the City’s work includes quantifying the economic benefits associated with an enhanced Green Network. For example:
- Natural infrastructure like grasslands, forests, and wetlands are conservatively estimated to provide over $48 million in services to the City of Saskatoon each year through storm water management, the provision of clean drinking water, quality of life through access to natural spaces, recreation, carbon sequestration, and more.
- Within Saskatoon, the river is estimated to provide over $7.5 million per year in services to citizens including clean drinking water and electricity.
- The appraised value of public trees in Saskatoon (excluding shelterbelts and afforestation areas) is more than $530 million.
- In 2023, Saskatoon’s urban forest was estimated to sequester 832,320 tonnes of CO2 at a carbon sequestration value of over 57.3 Million.
- A 2017 study estimated the economic value of the Meewasin river valley to be $182.65 million per year, providing services such as tourism, climate regulation, recreation, water treatment, and erosion control.
Investing in the city’s Green Network can help ensure that these tangible benefits—such as public health, water treatment, access to nature, and increased resilience to climate change—continue to be delivered to residents
What are we doing?
The City's work is outlined in Pathways for an Integrated Green Network (Green Pathways), a 10-year implementation plan to increase the quantity and quality of natural infrastructure in Saskatoon, enhance the urban environment, and improve quality of life. This work is guided by principles such as ecological integrity, connectivity, equity, safety, and wellness.
Our current priorities include:
- Developing a “Natural Asset Framework” for the City to ensure natural infrastructure is considered as part of the City’s asset management system.
- Monitoring the status of the Green Network, including its overall quality, connectivity, and distribution throughout the city.
- Exploring policies, strategies, and management practices to support Saskatoon’s natural areas and green spaces.
How you can help
- Get out and enjoy everything our Green Network has to offer, including parks, naturalized areas, and the Meewasin trails. Remember to respect all signage in parks and natural areas including cleaning up your litter and pet waste. This helps keep our Green Network healthy and safe for people and wildlife.
- Consider becoming a citizen scientist and helping the City and its partners monitor biodiversity in Saskatoon.
- Grow more green! Add a rain garden to your yard, join a community garden, or start a boulevard or median garden. The City's Healthy Yards program has some tips on growing food, attracting biodiversity, and low-water gardening.
- Volunteer for community initiatives through local organizations – there are several environmental groups that would love your support! For example, Meewasin offers a variety of opportunities to get involved in activities such as planting, tree wrapping, invasive species removal, wildlife tracking, and clean up events.
- Give the tree on your boulevard some extra love: give it a drink now and again; do not attach block heater cords, signs, or other items to the tree; do not use pesticides close to the tree or roots; and be careful not to damage the tree or roots with equipment such as mowers and trimmers.
- Help prevent the spread of Dutch Elm Disease: take elm wood to the City landfill for disposal; report suspected cases of Dutch Elm Disease through the City’s online form; do not buy, store, or transport elm wood; and do not prune elms during the provincial pruning ban of April 1 to August 31.
- Go pesticide free. Do not apply any pesticides or herbicides to your yard and garden, especially near the roots, trunk, or leaves of trees.
In the late 1970s, a partnership between the City, the University of Saskatchewan, and the Province culminated in the creation of the Meewasin Valley Authority Act (1979), which both undertakes long term planning along the river to support public access to the river valley and conserves the ecological and cultural resources within it. To this day, Meewasin continues to provide leadership in the management of key natural sites in our river valley.
As Saskatoon grows, it is taking a significant role with its partners and our communities in developing an integrated approach to support Saskatoon’s Green Network.
The Green Infrastructure Strategy was presented to City Council in 2020, which lays out the vision for a green network that provides sustainable habitat for people and nature. In 2022, the corresponding implementation plan, Green Pathways, was passed in principle by City Council.