The City of Saskatoon is preparing to enter a formal agreement with the Saskatoon Tribal Council for a new hydropower generation project at the Saskatoon Weir.
The total estimated cost of the project is $61.5 – 65.2 million, which is expected to be funded by the Saskatoon Tribal Council and private-sector partners, off-set by revenue generated by the power station and funding from other green-energy funding sources.
“The Saskatoon Weir is an ideal location for expanding the City’s clean-power generation program to hydropower,” said Kevin Hudson, manager of Sustainable Energy for the City-owned Saskatoon Light & Power. “The benefits of this initiative will be felt across the Saskatoon Region and we are delighted to have the Saskatoon Tribal Council as a partner to make it a reality.”
The project has been discussed since 2009, and in 2010 feasibility studies, a proposal to incorporate a recreational whitewater park for paddlers was also investigated. The recreational project was deemed feasible, and the CBC has reported that with the power generation facility approved, the recreational project cost would lower from the initially projected $14 million to $3 million. Proponents of the recreational paddling feature will present the case for the coordinated development of the recreational feature in tandem with progress on the hydropower project.
Proposed hydro project with addition of recreational paddling features, courtesy City of Saskatoon.
Earlier pre-feasibility and environmental baseline studies concluded the project was technically feasible and could be economically viable over the long-term without any significant disruption to the ecology of the area or negative downstream effects to the river valley. The project has been on hold since last presented to City Council in 2015 until funding could be identified.
“First Nations can benefit from employment, training, and education opportunities that extend beyond the construction phase of this project,” said Darrell Balkwill, chair of STC Investments Inc. “We are confident that the investment returns from this project will allow us to continue to support community infrastructure and social programs in our member communities.”
The project will involve restoring the weir’s current infrastructure, and the construction of a river crossing for pedestrians and cyclists that will be wider, safer, and more accessible than the current one on the CP Rail Bridge.
For more details and preliminary renderings of the hydropower station and site, visit saskatoon.ca/hydropower.