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WinterCityYXE: Saskatoon’s Winter City Strategy



Winter City Engagement Results to Date

We want to thank everyone who has shared your ideas to help shape the creation of a Winter City Strategy. Here's some quick participation numbers:

  • nine roundtable sessions attended by 60 individuals representing 48 sector groups
  • 531 responses to our online survey

 Full Engagement Results


This video describes what WinterCityXYE is and how you can get involved in helping create the strategy:

 WinterCityYXE Engagement  Video 

Photo Gallery

These photos portray just a few ways in which Saskatoon is already great in so many ways – winter life, design, culture and economy!

Check Out What Our Winter City Already Has to Offer!

There is already so much to do in Saskatoon in the winter! From outdoor winter activities like skating and cross country skiing, to PotashCorp Wintershines, one of Canada’s Best Winter Festivals, to attending a winter camp. 

Want to get out of the cold? The Saskatoon Civic Conservatory offers is a free place to warm up! Or check out the City of Saskatoon Winter 2017 Leisure Guide for a listing of hundreds of indoor and outdoor winter activities!

Project Background

WinterCityYXE supports a number of the City’s  Strategic Goals and is an intentional effort by the City and community stakeholders to celebrate what makes Saskatoon unique as a four-season place that is inviting, vibrant and prosperous, even in the coldest months of the year. 

Across North America and internationally, city leaders are partnering with community groups to highlight and tackle specific problems that occur in cities in the winter months, with the goal of improving the vitality of their community.  Facilitated through the City of Saskatoon’s (City) leadership and engaging the interest and efforts of the entire community, a Winter City Strategy will articulate the changes necessary to help residents, businesses and visitors ‘embrace’ winter with as much enthusiasm as they have for the summer season.

The goals for a Winter City Strategy are to improve broader community accessibility, inclusion, activity and energy, and lead to greater economic vitality (particularly within service, accommodation and retail sectors) as the opportunities of winter are realized and the challenges mitigated.  The intent of the Strategy is to be broad, responding to opportunities associated with winter life, winter design and winter economy; as well as addressing perceptions, attitudes and behaviours of citizens to generate a positive winter culture.

The WinterCityYXE Strategy is about improving our:

Winter Life: Celebrating the inviting and fun quality of life we have here, even in the coldest months of the year.

Let’s talk about finding ways to expand the opportunities for getting out in winter.  Winter Life is about embracing the winter season, and celebrating the unique activities and opportunities available in our city that make life fun and interesting. 

Saskatoon is vibrant and inviting in the summer season with a wide variety of things to do outside.  What if our winter season was equally inviting?  There are already many ways to adopt an active lifestyle in the winter months – skating, cross country skiing, fatbiking, outdoor running, tobogganing, and the list goes on! 

A winter lifestyle also includes simply getting out, even if it means to head back inside again to the many indoor leisure opportunities available in Saskatoon!  Walking to the library, Conservatory or to the same locations you would walk to in summer also contributes to enhancing Winter Life in our community.

Winter Design: Improving community comfort and accessibility for everyone, even in the ice and snow.

Winter Design refers to things we can do to plan, design and maintain our communities better; to make the winter months more enjoyable. Some examples include:

  • Ensuring water, washrooms and warming locations are built into the design of parks and public spaces.
  • Ensuring new buildings are built to take advantage of the winter sun.
  • Installing lighting to make the darker winter season inviting and beautiful.
  • Creating public spaces that take advantage of the sun and block out the cold wind (this is called creating a micro-climate and can be part of permanent designs for public or private spaces, or can be created seasonally by creating snow or ice walls or bringing in designed wind breakers).

Winter Culture: Building enthusiasm for winter, taking advantage of winter opportunities, and telling the story of our winter city.

The City of Edmonton is a great example of a city that is changing its winter culture so that citizens embrace winter. Edmonton is being recognized around the world for its Winter City Strategy, and citizens have proclaimed that it’s time they celebrate the joy of winter and embrace the season. They have a plan in place that sees the community working together, and thinking differently, so they can become a great world-leading winter city.

Other examples of Canadian cities where citizens look forward to winter are Quebec City and Ottawa. In Quebec City, the Winter Carnival offers a diverse program of winter activities and is one of the world’s largest winter carnivals, drawing thousands of visitors to the city each year. In Ottawa thousands of citizens look forward to skating to work each day during the winter on the Rideau Canal Skateway, the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world.

In cities that are embracing a Winter Culture, it is the contributions of businesses, community arts and culture groups, community sports and recreation groups, and the positive attitude of citizens themselves that makes all the difference.

Winter Economy: Addressing challenges associated with winter to create a more vibrant economy in the winter.

It is common throughout many cities for things to slow down in the winter season (outside the Christmas shopping period).  Let’s talk about ways in which Saskatoon’s Winter Economy could be made more vibrant to sustain our small businesses, attract visitors to new and existing events and festivals, and create a fun and inviting atmosphere that entices people to get out and connect with each other. 

Some examples for expanding our Winter Economy include:

  • Hosting a “dine-around” within one of Saskatoon’s shopping districts where citizens and visitors can take advantage of great deals or new exciting experiences by stopping in to participating restaurants for warm-up appetizers, hot meals, or a warm after dinner drink!
  • In Winnipeg, a “pop-up restaurant” is developed each winter, hosted by the top chefs in the city.  This unique event is sold out each year and diners enjoy both top-quality food and drink, and the opportunity to eat outside at a big community table with their friends, family, and new acquaintances!
  • In Edmonton, entrepreneurs are being encouraged to investigate business opportunities that would thrive in the winter, like the manufacture and sales of warm clothing and touque/mitt stores, etc. 

Participants were asked to provide feedback on what they love about our current winter life, design, culture and economy, and ideas on ways we could improve these. As participants provided their ideas, new themes for action emerged:

New Themes for Action:
  • Improve mobility: provide better snow clearing, create walkable spaces for pedestrians that are shielded from the wind, heat key sidewalks and improve both the City’s transit system, and the overall transportation system.
  • Improve infrastructure and facilities: build more warm-up shelters and winterized washrooms, ensure there is power, electricity and water to support outdoor facilities, and create infrastructure to support equipment rentals where activities occur. Also, provide more support to outdoor rinks, use colour and art in building design, and introduce lighting in key locations, allow seasonal businesses along the Meewasin Trail and build a portable stage. Provide better parking (more indoor lots).
  • Provide more support to existing activities: invest in cross-country skiing including enhancing facilities at Kinsmen Park. Expand Wintershines and create partnerships to hold events and share culture. Provide amenities like hot drinks at outdoor activities and use space we already have (parking lots) to hold events, and offer affordable equipment rentals near activities.
  • Create more events and things to do: hold both large events and festivals, and smaller ones in neighbourhoods. Share Indigenous culture through events and expand the public art program, ensure events and activities are affordable. Also, encourage the creation of outdoor cafes, educate people about how to do activities, and create new incentives for businesses to support the arts.   
  • Enhance promotion of winter activities and events: have one location for all winter information and supporting others in promoting their own activities and events.

Project Phases

Winter 2017

Phase 1: Building on the Strength of Existing Assets

An inventory of existing assets that support the experience of winter will be developed from existing information available throughout the community.  This webpage contains interactive maps, an events calendar, and lists of programs and opportunities already available in Saskatoon.  If you know of an existing winter-related ‘asset’ that is not listed here yet, please  let us know

Phase 2: Engaging the Community in Change

We are engaging with citizens, businesses, associations, volunteers and other community stakeholders using various in-person and online techniques that will help us generate ideas on ways to create a thriving winter city, identify challenges and opportunities associated with that, and suggest policy directions to City Council that could support the Winter City Strategy.

To ensure Saskatoon is perceived to be inviting, vibrant and prosperous by every sector, the planned approach to community engagement has the goal of inclusivity.  Achieving inclusivity will require an engagement approach that allows a broad cross-section of citizens, stakeholders and businesses to participate in identifying their needs, concerns and ideas.  To gain the interest and attention of the community to participate in the engagement, efforts to concentrate engagement opportunities during the winter season will be made.  Planning for winter in the winter season achieves additional benefits as barriers are more physically evident and opportunities are more perceivable. Ideas may also be piloted during the planning phase for the purposes of learning.  For these reasons, the City intends to initiate a concentrated round of community engagement for the winter months of 2017, develop an interim report, and then and then determine our options for moving forward with the Strategy. 

Submit your comments and ideas online now! 

 Host Your Own Roundtable Discussion 


Another way the City will engage the community is through funding for ‘quick win’ actions. A small amount of money ($35,000) has been set aside within the Winter City Strategy capital project to support pilot initiatives deemed to advance learning or move core concepts of the Strategy forward. 

Funding Opportunity! Interested in Attending Winter City Shake-Up 2017 in Edmonton?

The development and implementation of the Winter City Strategy will be a City-Community collaboration.  The City of Saskatoon is providing funding for up to four (4) delegates from the community-at-large to attend the Shake-Up 2017 Conference in Edmonton.

 See Call for Expressions of Interest 

New Pilot: Grant Opportunity  

The City is making grant dollars available for new winter program or design initiatives where a gap has been verified and need has been demonstrated. 

Funding will be targeted to meet specific Strategy outcomes.  Administration anticipates that grant dollars will focus on initiatives that:

  • add a new dimension to existing initiatives;
  • pilot an urban design concept in a high-use public area; and/or
  • facilitate linkages between existing initiatives to create new outcomes.

Learn more about this funding opportunity and/or apply now!

Phase 3: Interim Report

In May 2017, an interim report will be provide an update on work completed to date, initial engagement results, and options for moving the Winter City Strategy forward.

Winter 2018

Stay tuned for the release of plans for moving the Strategy forward!