The city long range planners are finding ways to accommodate 50,000 to 70,000 residents into these neighbourhoods. The George Genereux Afforestation Area was fully annexed into the city limits as of the boundary changes in 2005. At this same time, the full land area of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, also was included within City of Saskatoon limits.
Saskatoon is growing, and is filling up the land spaces alongside Saskatchewan Highway 7 to the west, and also south of 11th Street West. These eight to ten new city neighbourhoods are part of the Blairmore Sector Plan. The western boundary will be the new Perimeter Highway alignment
The Blairmore Sector Plan initially started out as the West Sector Plan in late 2004, and with investigation, and studies, the original concept was changed and approved in 2011. The long range planners are still developing the Blairmore Sector Plan which will also accommodate the two afforestation areas.
On page 2 of the Blairmore Sector Plan Report the West Swale is acknowledged as an existing feature; “a shallow swale, likely a former melt-water channel that traverses the Sector in a north to south direction. The swale extends south and east, eventually entering the South Saskatchewan River.”
Further to this, page 4 Blairmore Sector Plan Report elucidates on the Natural Areas Screening process, “as part of a NCP, site specific Natural Areas Screening may be required to identify and protect important ecosystems, other natural areas, and archaeological sites. As part of development, developers are encourage to do their due diligence to maintain these natural areas and incorporate them seamlessly into the neighbourhood to form part of the open space system.”source
Page 5 Blairmore Sector Plan Report speaks to the eco-system; “The West Swale and tree clusters are being utilized by wildlife as indicated by nests and the sighting of a Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni), a number of Sparrow species, and American Robins.” In addition to this, the wetlands is home to the Black Crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax ), of course the Mallard (Anas Platrhynchos), Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius Phoeniceus), Great Blue Heron Ardea Herodias, American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), and is a unique site to spot the ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) (to name a very few). Frogs, snakes, turtles and the Barred Tiger Salamander also known as the western tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium) number amongst the amphibians in the West Swale wetlands as well. Along with the Robins, visitors will sight the Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides), and the Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) come spring, however this prairie songbird population is declining. “Declines appear to be largely due to lost habitat — breeding and wintering habitats,” said Charles Francis, “It’s quieter, and it’s quieter because there are fewer [birds],” according to Christy Morrissey, a University of Saskatchewan avian toxicologist.
The mixed forest in the George Genereux Urban Regional Park and Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area contain native and exotic trees; Trembling Aspen Populus tremuloides, American Elm Ulmus americana, Colorado Blue Spruce Picea pungens, Scotch Pine Pinus sylvestris L, Willow Salix, Black Balsam Poplar Populus balsamifera, Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus, Honeysuckle Lonicera, Canada Buffaloberry Shepherdia canadensis and Dogwood Cornus alba.
The west Swale is also home to mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus, Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), Moose (Alces alces),White-Tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii), Snowshoe Hare (Lepus Americanus) and Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) to name a few mammals.
The history of the area includes the Old Bone Trail which bisects straight through the West Swale enroute to the old train station located where the current Midtown Plaza now stands in down town Saskatoon.
In the western prairie provinces, areas of water collection are often referred to as prairie pothole wetlands. Larry Edwin Hodges, identified the Yorath Island Spillway as a Pleistocene era event in his PhD Thesis, Morphology of the South Saskatchewan River Valley Outlook to Saskatoon, and classified this Yorath Island Spillway as the West Swale as a major meltwater drainage channel, classical example of glacial spillway topography. In the West Swale are several areas and features that budding geologists can discover and study the results left behind as the “catastrophic floods of glacial meltwater and sediment washed through these valleys”, typifying the Yorath Island glacial spillway, now known as the West Swale.James S. Aber Pleistocene deposits and geology show “erosional features of the underlying bedrock surface such as buried valleys, which are filled and concealed by drift, and which result in a thickening of Pleistocene deposits; erosional features of the surface of the drift, such as stream valleys, which cause a thinning of the Pleistocene deposits; and depositional features such as end moraines, drumlins, and outwash plains of glacial origin, which result in a thickening of the Pleistocene deposits.P.F. Karrow.
The preservation of the afforestation areas in 1972 by Saskatoon city council, therefore, has also preserved a segment of the invaluable historic geological landmark of the West Swale, and its Pleistocene heritage and history.
The Blairmore Sector Plan Report continues on page 6 regarding the West Swale. “The West Swale divides the Blairmore SDA in half creating a natural boundary in the area. The swale is a large area of land, mainly left untouched due to topography and marshy soil quality. The swale provides an important overland drainage corridor connecting the northwest lands with the South Saskatchewan River near section 12-36-6-W3. The West Swale lands will be examined in more detail through site specific Natural Areas Screening; however, maintaining these lands as bodies of water is important. Within City limits, the City currently owns approximately half of the lands that make up the West Swale, and the remaining half is owned by private land owners”, amongst these owners is Ducks Unlimited who established Chappell Marsh Conservation area in the Rural Municipality of Corman Park 344 .
Page 8 of the Blairmore Sector plan, states, that “At full build out of the Blairmore Sector Plan within city limits, the total estimated number of units is 32,090 and the total estimated population is 70,6079 people.”
To accommodate this burgeoning population, multi-unit dwellings, single-unit dwellings, commercial, institutional, schools, parks, roads, existing and perimeter highways, truck routes, pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular modalities, multi-use trails, transit, multi-purpose recreation complexes, cultural facilities, community services, infrastructure servicing, watermains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers, buried utilities, and recycling facilities are a few of the considerations faced by the City long range planners.
The Blairmore Sector Plan (within the city limits) is being developed in conjunction with the Saskatoon North Partnership for Growth (P4G) area plans (outside city limits including the West Swale, and surrounding George Genereux Urban Regional Park). – Both George Genereux Urban Regional Park and Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area were annexed into city limits in 2005.
There will be public consultations for the Blairmore Sector Area plans upcoming, please watch the “City Pages” in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix for announcements.
For more information:
P4G Saskatoon North Partnership for Growth The P4G consists of the Cities of Saskatoon, Warman, and Martensville, the Town of Osler and the Rural Municipality of Corman Park; planning for areas around the afforestation area and West Swale outside of Saskatoon city limits
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city. 52° 06′ 106° 45′
Part SE 23-36-6 – Afforestation Area – 241 Township Road 362-A
Part SE 23-36-6 – SW Off-Leash Recreation Area (Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area ) – 355 Township Road 362-A
S ½ 22-36-6 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (West of SW OLRA) – 467 Township Road 362-A
NE 21-36-6 “George Genereux” Afforestation Area – 133 Range Road 3063
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Where is the George Genereux Urban Regional Park (Afforestation Area)? with map
Please help protect / enhance your afforestation areas, please contact the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. (e-mail)
Support the afforestation areas with your donation or membership ($20.00/year). Please donate by paypal using the e-mail friendsafforestation AT gmail.com, or by using e-transfers Please and thank you! Your donation and membership is greatly appreciated. Members e-mail your contact information to be kept up to date!
|Membership : $20.00 CAD – yearly
Membership with donation : $50.00 CAD
Membership with donation : $100.00 CAD
The trees and vegetation, which cover the land surface of the Earth and delight the eye, are performing vital tasks incumbent upon the vegetable world in nature. Its presence is essential to earth as an organism. It is the first condition of all life; it is the “Skin” of the earth, for without it there can be no water and, therefore, no life. ~Richard St. Barbe Baker
“When the trees go, the rain goes, the climate deteriorates, the water table sinks, the land erodes and desert conditions soon appear”.~Richard St. Barbe Baker