At a half-day meeting with board members and staff at Wanuskewin Heritage Park on June 5, our Functional Planning Study team gained a deeper appreciation of the impact that the design and location of the Saskatoon Freeway will have on Wanuskewin’s growth plans.
Wanuskewin officials informed us they are rapidly moving ahead on a formal submission to UNESCO for inscription on the World Heritage List. Wanuskewin’s placement on Canada’s Tentative List for World Heritage Sites in 2017 was the first step in formally acknowledging the uniqueness of the area and the importance of protecting 6,400 years of history as a gathering place.
Wanuskwin’s aim is to be designated in 2022. It will be the first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Saskatchewan.
The location of a freeway interchange near Wanuskewin will be crucial in handling the increase in traffic anticipated at the park. Our team shared a few preliminary designs for how these interchanges could work.
At the same time, the Functional Planning Study team also heard that preserving the area around Wanuskewin is required for the UNESCO World Heritage application. Our design team committed to look at options to reduce how much visitors will be able to see and hear the freeway while on the Wanuskewin land. The team was advised that having an inadequate buffer between the National Historic Site and development could derail the World Heritage nomination process.
Plans like Wanuskewin’s World Heritage designation was one of the driving reasons why our Functional Planning Study team began its work on the northern component of the freeway, as this is the site of the most development/growth pressure from the City of Saskatoon and surrounding areas.
The Functional Planning Study team will continue to work closely with Wanuskewin as more detailed design and environmental work continues over the summer of 2019.