Depave Paradise is an initiative of Green Communities Canada (GCC) that turns disused asphalt spaces into new green spaces. GCC has hosted over 80 Depave Paradise events across Canada. In 2022, SES completed the first Depave Paradise event in Saskatchewan.
Pavement and asphalt can be useful surfaces in cities for accessibility and durability; however, they also disrupt the natural water cycle. Hard and impermeable, asphalt does not allow water to filter into the ground. Instead, water slides across, picking up road salt, pesticides, and other contaminants. In Saskatoon, as in many municipalities, storm water run-off is not treated prior to entering the South Saskatchewan River. Replacing asphalt with plants means that more water will soak into the ground and be naturally filtered by soil and plants, also reducing flooding.
SES worked with Walter Murray high school in Saskatoon to transform their obsolete tennis court into a perennial and food garden that provides space for pollinators and people to thrive.
The old asphalt at the site was cut into removable chunks and teams of volunteers using pry bars and wheelbarrows, removed 235m2 of asphalt filling 5 recycling bins. Volunteers then planted over 600 plants at the site!
Students and teachers from Walter Murray had shared their ideas and feedback for the new space which included food plants where they could find a snack between classes, and for a place that felt relaxing and calm. They also suggested modelling the garden on the ecoregions of Saskatchewan, including plants from boreal and grassland regions. Teachers asked for an outdoor learning space with wildflowers and Indigenous medicines.
This project took a lot of planning, hard work, community sweat, and sponsorship support. Huge thanks and gratitude go to Green Communities Canada, Affinity Credit Union, and PCL Construction for their sponsorship and in-kind support. Thanks to SEIU-West for the BBQ lunches for our volunteers, and to Affinity Credit Union for the refreshments. Thanks to Saskatoon Public Schools for their partnership and to Walter Murray Collegiate staff and students for their hard work and countless wheelbarrow loads of soil and compost. And finally to the many volunteers that came out to the events. We truly could not have done this without you!