A proposed “Green Network” in the area north of Saskatoon will protect natural habitats as well as provide protection against flooding, according to the Partnership for Growth (P4G).
“We’re looking at how can we use wetlands and natural areas not just as a parkland, but as green infrastructure that can support economical drainage areas, that can store water during big events and through an improved drainage system that can eventually drain areas around development more safely than in other areas,” said planner, Doug Olson with O2 Planning+Design. The area is prone to flooding. He said the Green Network was an important inclusion given the flooding in the area, 2013 being a case in point.
The Green Network is an ongoing study area with a multi-functional green map, which intends to ensure sufficient land is identified for wildlife, wetlands, drainage swales, natural grasslands, and some uplands that are currently cultivated. All these areas would be linked for drainage purposes and would link wildlife as well.
Alex Fallon, chair of the P4G Regional Oversight Committee, acknowledged that some people in the Green Network study will wonder how it impacts their land. “They have land that they want to keep as an agricultural use and it still is zoned agricultural so they’re pretty happy.”
It is anticipated that the Network will also improve surface water quality, thereby improving the health of the South Saskatchewan River. It will provide citizens with opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, through hiking, bird watching and other types of recreation. Wanuskewin Heritage Park is considered an important resource for these purposes in the area. The plan allows for additional parks, open spaces and protected areas.
Some development will be allowed in the Green Network study area. Applications will undergo a screening process to ensure development avoids impacting local and regional drainage, wetlands, and ecological areas. Corridors for wildlife movement are to be preserved. If impacts are unavoidable, mitigation or compensation will be required.
Adam Tittemore, administrator for the RM of Corman Park says the RM has been operating with this knowledge on the back burner for some time, in particular with projects in areas that have drainage issues.
“With any application we have come forward for development, we’re asking a lot of these questions and trying to look at things in that way to make sure there aren’t going to be issues,” he said.
The Green Network Study Area was previously named “Conversation and Drainage” but it was changed to reflect a broader range of functions and to signal that additional information will be needed to refine its’ boundaries.