Press Release: SES collaborates with Howard Coad Community School

PRESS RELEASE
Saskatchewan Environmental Society
Saturday, June 8, 2024
For immediate release

SES collaborates with Howard Coad Community School to cultivate even more green infrastructure in Saskatoon’s Mount Royal neighbourhood

Everyone needs to be involved to advance equitable, abundant, and thriving urban green spaces. This is why Green Communities Canada, through their Living Cities Fund, chose to partner with 30 community-based organizations across the country by supporting the planning, design, and implementation of local green infrastructure action projects (e.g., rain gardens, permeable pavement, green roofs, orchards, community gardens, etc.) that combine natural and built elements to address environmental and social issues. Green infrastructure is one of many intersecting tangible actions that can mitigate the impacts of climate change, build local resiliency, and make our communities more vibrant and healthy places to live. 

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES), located on Treaty Six Territory in Saskatoon, is the only organization in our province, and west of Manitoba, to receive such funding to create a strategic, equity-embedded, and community-led green infrastructure project. This initiative is also generously supported locally by the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

After SES conducted a desktop review of Saskatoon using a multitude of datasets pertaining to both equity-representing groups and environmental aspects of Saskatoon, variables like percent immigrant, visible minority and Indigenous households, tree canopy cover and loss, and proportion of paved surfaces were overlain on a map. From this, Saskatoon communities that could benefit from this green infrastructure project became apparent.

SES’s Living Cities Coordinator, Elisabeth Walker, then set out to visit some potential locations for the transformation. “At each potential site, I walked around to determine what natural and structural features were present. After that, I began reaching out to a narrowed-down list of community groups and schools to build relationships and secure a site host,” Elisabeth shared.

Through this process, SES approached Howard Coad Community School to discuss opportunities to collaborate with the school community and residents in the broader Mount Royal neighbourhood. The staff at Howard Coad were enthusiastic and welcomed the opportunity to work together in bringing the vision of a flourishing outdoor learning space to life. “We are excited to get our students outside in the coming years through the integration of this greenspace into our annual curriculum. Students will learn valuable skills in land stewardship, build connections to Indigenous cultures and languages, and foster their relationships with nature,” said Mathew Fiedelleck, Vice-Principal at Howard Coad.

Over the following months, the landscape plan was co-designed with the Howard Coad community to incorporate native prairie perennials, grasses, and edible shrubs. The landscape plan was also developed with future growth in mind. For example, benches or other infrastructure could easily be integrated into the space in the future, if the community so desires.

Finally, on June 8, 2024, over 50 volunteers from the Mount Royal community and beyond are using their hearts and hands to put the plants in the ground. Volunteers are preparing and creating pathways of crusher dust and mulch, amending mounded planting beds with compost, and planting the shrubs, grasses, and other prairie plants. The result is a biodiverse urban greenspace, which aligns with SES’s goal of building a sustainable future through tangible actions, including the preservation of important habitats, protection of water sources, and the implementation of innovative climate solutions.

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Learn more about this Living Cities project here.