WinterCityYXE: Saskatoon’s Winter City Strategy
Check Out What Our Winter City Already Has to Offer!
There is already so much to do in Saskatoon in the winter! From outdoor winter activities like skating and cross country skiing, to PotashCorp Wintershines, one of Canada’s Best Winter Festivals, to attending a winter camp.
Check out the City of Saskatoon Winter 2018 Leisure Guide for a listing of hundreds of indoor and outdoor winter activities! The 2018 Guide is coming out soon!!
Outdoor Recreational Facilities
Outdoor Winter Events 2017 - 2018
January 18 - 21: Winterruption
Broadway Theatre presents Winterruption, encompassing 23 shows in 9 indoor venues, and also an outdoor festival featuring storytelling, free sleigh rides, face painting, free hot beverages, outdoor food and more. As part of Winterruption, a tipi will be raised in late November as central venue for free storytelling during Winterruption. It will also be used by Ecole Victoria School for much of the winter.
January 28: Nutrien Wintershines Skating Party
Come skate with us at the annual Nutrien Wintershines Skating Party and experience one of the best outdoor skating spots in Canada! Join us at the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink @Nutrien Plaza from 12-4 p.m. Enjoy music provided by Night Owl Audio and warm up with Tim Hortons hot chocolate and coffee! The rink will close when windchill exceeds -31C.
February 4: Lawson Heights WinterFest at Rochdale Park (near St. George School)
Shiny exhibition with players from the Saskatoon Blades and Huskies Women's Hockey teams. Opportunity for kids to skate with those players and to get photos with them. Horse-drawn wagon rides though the park, tobogganing, sledge hockey demo, and fireworks. BBQ and hot chocolate available.
February 10: Wanuskewin Winter Festival
This is a family event with programming centred around Indigenous games, activities, and trapping skills. Activities will be inside and outside. Keep an eye out for updates with Wanuskewin Heritage Park.
February 10 – 11: Frosted Gardens at the Zoo
The Professional Ice Carving Society of Saskatoon is holding its fourth annual ice carving event at the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo. There will be ice carving demos, games, ice block play area, ice carving workshops for kids ages 4-10, and a concession.
February 10 - March 20: Winter Play Program
Fun for kids and youth ages 2-12! Until March 20, drop in from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at the following parks across the city for winter games and activities:
• College Park Recreation Unit: 141 Campion Crescent
• Holliston Recreation Unit: 1151 Louise Avenue
• Westmount Recreation Unit: 411 Avenue J North
Each location has a heated warm-up unit.
February 11: Hypo1/2
Join in the Hypothermic ½ Marathon. Each registrant will receive a Running Room Backpack and reversible neck warmer.
February 19: Cameco Family Day Skating Party
Bring the whole family for a holiday Monday full of skating, winter fun, and hot beverages! Don’t miss this chance to make the best of your Family Day. Join us at the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink @Nutrien Plaza from 12-4 p.m.
February 19: City of Saskatoon Family Day Skate
Bring your skates and safety gear and come down for an afternoon of skating and winter fun. Join us from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. at either of these facilities:
• Clarence Downey Speed Skating Oval
• Cosmo Civic Centre
February 20-23: Snowlandia: A Winter Week for Young Women
Leap on snowshoes, search for life under the snow, develop leadership skills and make outdoorsy friends. In partnership with Wildernook Fresh Air Learning, this program is designed for young women ages 10 -12 who would rather be outside exploring and building forts. Snowlandia is an opportunity for young women to be active outdoors during the winter break. Each day will feature a different winter adventure in the Saskatoon area.
February 21-23: Saskatoon Zoo Society Winter Camp
This exciting three-day camp is all about having fun in the winter. Participants will help feed the socialized animals, participate in winter activities, and make some cool crafts. Bring a bag lunch and snacks. We will provide the lunch and snacks on the Friday.
March 2: Snowed in Comedy Tour
Four international comedians come together to create one amazing show with each bringing a unique and hilarious take providing something for everyone. Just for Laughs winner Dan Quinn is back along with Seattle Comedy Competition winner Damonde Tschritter. The $25,000 great Canadian laugh off winner, Paul Myrehaug, returns this year as well as 5 time Canadian Comedian of the year nominee, Pete Zedlacher. Don’t miss out on the comedy show called “Better than the Just for Laughs tour” and “Delivers a Flurry of Laughs”.
Outdoor Programs and Activities
As part of the winter fun in Saskatoon, 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. If they are a hit, we might make our own huts!
The huts were on loan at the Nutrien Wintershines Festival, January 27 - February 4, and the Kona - Wanuskewin Winter Festival February 10. After that, they were on the riverbank at two locations: Spadina Crescent and Oxford Street, and Spadina Crescent and Avenue D until early March.
Let us know what you think and if you had fun in the hut!!!:
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.
A total of $50,000 is allocated to non-profit organizations, ad hoc groups, businesses or for-profit organizations implementing initiatives that support the WinterCityYXE goals and objectives.
Grant categories are:
Winter Comfort and Access:
Projects that improve comfort and accessibility in the winter (eg. winterizing outdoor patios, grooming trails or walking paths, adding wind breaks).
Urban design installations which celebrate winter.
Events, festivals and activities that build enthusiasm for winter by taking advantage of winter opportunities and celebrate the fun quality of life.
For more information, please contact Environmental & Corporate Initiatives at email@example.com or (306) 986-3096.
2018 WintercityYXE Grant Recipients
Congratulations to the successful applicants of the 2018 WinterCityYXE Grant Program:
September 2018 – January 2019
Little Stone Light Conservatory
Recipient: Broadway Business Improvement District
Location: Little Stone Stage at Broadway Avenue and 11th Street
A romantic ‘instagramable’ light-encrusted conservatory, to illuminate the evening hours and provide a stage or platform for winter activities and performances.
January 19 – February 3, 2019
Honouring the Complexity of Treaty 6 Territory
Recipient: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan
Location: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan site
An interactive art installation on and around the site that will incorporate lighting and visual design along with storytelling, made available through a free smartphone app.
January 24 – January 26, 2019
Recipient: Friends of the Broadway Theatre
Location: Broadway District
The festival will include outdoor sporting activities with product demonstrations by local businesses; live performances by local and national artists in Broadway Ave storefronts; and a storytelling series featuring Indigenous and Newcomer storytellers held within a teepee on the Victoria Elementary School grounds.
January 26 or 27, 2019
Winter Family Friendly Triathlon
Recipient: Saskatoon Triathlon Club
Location: Clarence Downey Speed Skating Oval and the Holiday Park Golf Course
A fun, family-friendly, winter multi-sport opportunity.
January - March 2, 2019
Recipient: Saskatoon Cycles
A slow winter ride, a winter bike workshop, a winter bike to work day and a BikeArt Show.
January 26, 2019
King George Winter Carnival
Recipient: King George Community Association
Location: King George School grounds
A one day winter carnival including a magician, Giant Jenga, Minute to Win It games, craft table, winter taffee making, information table, horse and sleigh rides, fire truck tour, shinny with Saskatoon City Police, kick sledding, snow shoeing, skating, and schlockey.
February 9, 2019
Recipient: Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Location: Wanuskewin Heritage Park
The Wanuskewin Kona Winter Festival will feature competitions in sports such as: fire making; bannock making, animal calling, log sawing, trap setting competitions and snow shoeing. We also have traditions on the Saskatchewan Plains which include storytelling and round-dancing.
March 3, 2019
Winter Fun Fest
Recipient: Greystone Heights Community Association
Location: Greystone Heights Park
The Winter Fun Fest will include ice skating, sleigh rides, cookie decorating, face painting, snow painting, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and sledding.
March 3, 2019
Recipient: Play Sask
This one-day, team-based, organized snowball fight tournament will bring participants out to beautiful Wanuskewin for a fun day with friends playing in the snow. There will also be a Learn to Play event at Wanuskewin Kona Festival (February 9).
S is for Snow Series
Recipient: Saskatoon Open Door Society
Location: Various locations around Saskatoon
The S is for Snow project will involve newcomer immigrant and refugees in winter activities to introduce them to Canadian culture and enjoying winters in Saskatoon:
- S is for Skating, will take place at the Meewasin Skating Rink.
- S is for Skiing or Snowshoeing, will take place at a local golf course or park.
- Socializing in the Sun, will be a wrap up event and feature storytelling in a tipi, safety tips, songs (all about snow), a samosa cook off competition, snowflake craft and snowman making.
Warm Up to Winter
Recipient: Saskatoon Council on Aging
The event will include a walk along the river bank followed by warming up with soup and bread. Entertainment will include culturally diverse, dancing and drumming.
Note to WinterCityYXE Grant Recipients: Each organization receiving a WinterCityYXE Grant, must submit a Follow-up Report Form upon completion of their project/event.
What is WinterCityYXE?
WinterCityYXE supports a number of the City’s Strategic Goals and is an intentional effort by the City and community stakeholders to celebrate what makes Saskatoon unique as a four-season place that is inviting, vibrant and prosperous, even in the coldest months of the year.
Across North America and internationally, city leaders are partnering with community groups to highlight and tackle specific problems that occur in cities in the winter months, with the goal of improving the vitality of their community. Facilitated through the City of Saskatoon’s (City) leadership and engaging the interest and efforts of the entire community, a Winter City Strategy will articulate the changes necessary to help residents, businesses and visitors ‘embrace’ winter with as much enthusiasm as they have for the summer season.
The goals for a Winter City Strategy are to improve broader community accessibility, inclusion, activity and energy, and lead to greater economic vitality (particularly within service, accommodation and retail sectors) as the opportunities of winter are realized and the challenges mitigated. The intent of the Strategy is to be broad, responding to opportunities associated with winter life, winter design and winter economy; as well as addressing perceptions, attitudes and behaviours of citizens to generate a positive winter culture
Reports to City Council about the Winter City Strategy
Winter 2018 - Themes for Action
Based on the feedback from the engagement sessions, the next steps will involve the City and community working on the following themes:
Improve mobility: provide better snow clearing, create walkable spaces for pedestrians that are shielded from the wind, heat key sidewalks and improve both the City’s transit system, and the overall transportation system.
Improve infrastructure and facilities: build more warm-up shelters and winterized washrooms, ensure there is power, electricity and water to support outdoor facilities, and create infrastructure to support equipment rentals where activities occur. Also, provide more support to outdoor rinks, use colour and art in building design, and introduce lighting in key locations, allow seasonal businesses along the Meewasin Trail and build a portable stage. Provide better parking (more indoor lots).
Provide more support to existing activities: invest in cross-country skiing including enhancing facilities at Kinsmen Park. Expand Wintershines and create partnerships to hold events and share culture. Provide amenities like hot drinks at outdoor activities and use space we already have (parking lots) to hold events, and offer affordable equipment rentals near activities.
Create more events and things to do: hold both large events and festivals, and smaller ones in neighbourhoods. Share Indigenous culture through events and expand the public art program, ensure events and activities are affordable. Also, encourage the creation of outdoor cafes, educate people about how to do activities, and create new incentives for businesses to support the arts.
Enhance promotion of winter activities and events: have one location for all winter information and supporting others in promoting their own activities and events.
Winter 2017 - Project Phases
Phase 1: Building on the Strength of Existing Assets
An inventory of existing assets that support the experience of winter will be developed from existing information available throughout the community. This webpage contains interactive maps, an events calendar, and lists of programs and opportunities already available in Saskatoon. If you know of an existing winter-related ‘asset’ that is not listed here yet, please let us know!
Phase 2: Engaging the Community in Change
Stakeholders gathered for a kick-off in March 2016, and identified the need to first inventory existing assets/activities and improve awareness of them before making any further planned improvements to Saskatoon’s winter experience.
From this workshop came the four step process for developing in a Saskatoon Community Winter City Strategy:
- Build on the strength of existing assets
- Engaging the community in change
- Implementing Actions
- Developing the Strategy
Engagement continued between January and April 2017, and the results were shared at a community workshop on April 27, 2017. Nine roundtable sessions were attended by 60 individuals representing 48 sector groups; and there were 531 responses to our online survey.
A big thank you to the WinterCity Community Working Group:
Kim Ali (OnPurpose Events)
Shad Ali (OnPurpose Leadership)
PJ Bell (Saskatoon Cycles / LivableYXE)
Will Brooks (Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan)
Gina Dipaolo (University of Saskatchewan)
Eric Lefol (Federation des Francophones de Saskatoon)
Gail Motsi (Saskatoon Nordic Ski Club )
Ian Shaw (Saskatoon Open Door Society)
Candace Skrapek (Age Friendly Saskatoon)
Lenore Swystun (Prairie Wild Consulting)
Kirby Wirchenko (Broadway Theatre)
Chris Standing (Wanuskewin Heritage Park)
Brent Penner (Downtown YXE)
The City also provided funding for some community groups to attend the Winter Cities Shake-Up Conference in Edmonton in February 2017.
As well, the City issued a call for submissions to support existing or new community initiatives in the winter. Six submissions were chosen, and their projects are highlighted in “Check Out What Our Winter City already Has to Offer” page
These photos portray just a few ways in which Saskatoon is already great in so many ways – winter life, design, culture and economy!
You can download and use these photos and videos in your own winter materials.