Meewasin Valley Authority consults on National Urban Park designation

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As Ottawa wishes to establish a system of national urban parks, stakeholders are asked if it is suitable for Meewasin.

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Ottawa announced this summer a $130 million fund to create national urban parks in Canadian cities; the Meewasin Valley is considered a potential location for one.

MVA CEO Andrea Lafond spoke to StarPhoenix about the start of a consultation phase led by a steering committee made up of representatives from MVA, the city, province and university as well as the municipality. community of Corman Park, Saskatoon Tribal Council, Métis Nation Heritage Park—Saskatchewan and Wanuskewin.

Q: Where are the discussions on the national urban park designation for Meewasin?

A: We are just getting started with engaging some of Meewasin’s key stakeholders and our partners, and then what I will also say are national, provincial and local bodies that really have an interest in Meewasin, but also an interest whether it’s economic development, tourism, education, conservation, a host of different people.

The first phase, we have identified more than 150 entities, organizations, governments and different groups that we will go through. In fact, it will probably be in phase two where there will be more public comment.

We hope that everything will be finished by the end of March in this first phase. And if all of our key stakeholders and funding partners from Meewasin and the federal government agree that this is a good idea, then we would start looking at phase two, which would then be business planning, and probably a much deeper engagement.

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Andrea Lafond, Executive Director of the Meewasin Valley Authority.  The MVA is a partnership between the province, the city of Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan that has overseen river valley conservation since 1979.
Andrea Lafond, Executive Director of the Meewasin Valley Authority. The MVA is a partnership between the province, the city of Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan that has overseen river valley conservation since 1979. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

Q: What is unique about the Meewasin Valley that could make it a national park?

A: We are the largest urban conservation area in Canada, from all we can look at. And there is not another urban center in Canada that has an entity focused on the conservation and development of free public waterfront access.

The extent and size of Meewasin—it’s 67 square kilometres, so that’s 13,400 football pitches that we’re looking after—so it’s an important area and it’s an ecological corridor.

Q: What might be some of the benefits of becoming an urban national park?

A: So I think from an economic impact point of view, that’s fine. Another very good opportunity, I would say, is that now that we are 43 years old, we have deviated from the 100 year concept plan. At that time, they predicted that the population within 100 years within a 15 kilometer radius of the Meewasin Valley would be around 240,000. Well, we’re now sitting at 327,000.

So the question is: Do we have enough natural space for our growing municipalities?

So it really allows through this phase to have this discussion in a more meaningful way.

  1. The Meewasin Valley Authority and Parks Canada announced on Wednesday that they have signed an agreement to explore the possibility of a national urban park in the Meewasin Valley.

    Meewasin partners with Parks Canada for a national urban park

  2. Row Romanow stands near the South Saskatchewan River Valley, an area he helped protect through his involvement in the creation of the Meewasin Valley Authority.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, SK.  Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

    Romanow reflects on the controversial origin of the Meewasin Valley Authority

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