Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Looking to get rid of unwanted items? Participate in a Curbside Swap!

Curbside Swaps are fun and environmentally friendly ways for residents to give away unwanted items that are still in good condition, as well as “hunt” for new treasures.

Swaps will be held this fall in a neighbourhood near you!
On swap day, residents in the host neighbourhood begin placing their unwanted items on the curb at 9:00 a.m. – the items will be clearly marked “FREE.” After that, residents from across Saskatoon can wander through the community to find new treasures to take home. The event ends at 6:00 p.m. that day and all unclaimed items are returned back to their homes.

Most household items in good condition can be swapped including appliances, bicycles, books, yard and garden equipment, tools, electronics, furniture and other durable goods.

For more information, visit and click on “C” for Curbside Swap.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Be Water Wise

Did you know that in the summer months, water use in Saskatoon usually doubles? Much of this increase is due to lawn and garden watering.

Be Water Wise to help the environment, save energy, save money, and help preserve our city’s water systems.

How can you Be Water Wise?
Being water wise does not necessarily mean watering less, but it does mean watering smarter.

Watering Tips for Your Lawn

  • If your lawn is established, water it deeply, but not more than once a week and skip a week after a good rain. If you leave footprints when you walk on your lawn it may be time to water. 
  • Water newly seeded lawns every other day until the grass reaches 5 cm; then water less frequently. Soak newly laid sod with 2.5 cm of water (1 inch), then water lightly every other day for about two weeks.
  • Use the tuna can test to determine how long to run your sprinklers. Set a tuna can in each of your sprinkler zones and time how long it takes to fill it with water. That's how long you should run your sprinkler once a week if your lawn is dry. 
  • Ensure your sprinklers are working properly and are targeted away from sidewalks to avoid wasting water. 
  • Use drip irrigation systems/hoses for trees and shrubs and sprinkler systems that are timed to turn on and off automatically. Remember to turn them off if it’s raining. 
  • Avoid watering during the heat of the day or during windy times. Choose cool and calm times of the day to water your lawn and garden to minimize evaporation. 
For more tips on how you can Be Water Wise this summer, and to find out what the City of Saskatoon is doing to conserve water, visit: Be Water Wise.

Watch our video on the Importance of Water.

Learn more about our Environmental Leadership.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Moving Forward on Smart Meters!

City Council has approved the implementation of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)system for Saskatoon’s electricity and water utilities.

By the end of 2015, customers who have already received their new smart meters will have their meters read electronically and will begin receiving monthly bills based on actual, not estimated usage. As the deployment of smart meters continues, the balance of customers will be converted to the AMI system.

Smart meters measure and record actual power and water usage by time intervals throughout the day, and transmit that data wirelessly over a secure network to a central data management system. With a smart meter, meter reading can be done remotely.

What does this mean for customers? With smart meters, you pay for the electricity and water that you actually use each month, you can track your electricity and water use, and meter readers may no longer need to visit your home.

The City will benefit from revenue generated from more accurate metering and less loss due to meter failure, and reduced labour costs associated with remote meter reading including less fuel costs, and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is estimated that 35 tonnes of CO2e tied to vehicle use will be reduced each year, and reductions from decreased water use are estimated at 3,300 tonnes CO2e, the equivalent of removing over 685 vehicles from Saskatoon roads each year.

In the future, smart meters could help identify power outages more quickly and save money through the operation of a more efficient system.

Over the past several years, AMI Systems have been deployed by electrical, water, and natural gas utilities throughout North America, including most Canadian provinces.

SaskPower and SaskEnergy have already begun the process of replacing over 500,000 electricity meters and the upgrading of 370,000 natural gas meters in Saskatchewan with new metering technology as part of a Joint AMI program.

Not sure if you’re a Saskatoon Light & Power customer?  Map of Electrical Power Service inSaskatoon.

Find out more about smart meters

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Be Pesticide Free Campaign

The City of Saskatoon is partnering with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society on the 2014 Be Pesticide Free campaign.

What is a Pesticide?
A pesticide is a substance that is designed to kill pests. Pesticides by definition are toxic because they poison the pest. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides. Common examples are RoundUp, Killex, Weed N’ Feed, and 2,4-D. Pesticides do not prevent pest problems; they only try to control pests once they are present.

Do pesticides pose risks to human and environmental health?
The use of pesticides is associated with negative impacts to both human and environmental health. Using pesticide-free alternatives to manage home and garden pests could improve air, water and soil quality, support biodiversity, and lower the risks to human health.

Pesticides can leach through the soil and end up in groundwater and surface water. Once in lakes and streams, they may become a threat to aquatic life. Some chemicals become more concentrated through the food chain, resulting in long-term negative effects to animals, such as an inability to successfully reproduce. In addition, fish and wildlife may accumulate concentrations of toxins making them unsuitable for human consumption. [1]

Articles in peer-reviewed journals, such as Canadian Family Physician [2] and Canadian Journal of Public Health [3], have also shown that pesticide exposure is correlated with negative health effects, such as cancer. In one extensive study done on the health effects of pesticides, the health impacts were found to be most significant for pesticide exposure during pregnancy, childhood, and for workers that frequently handle pesticides. As such, the authors recommend that exposure to all pesticides be reduced.

The health risks associated with pesticides depend on the toxicity of the active pesticide ingredients, as well as the amount of exposure to pesticides.

How can I lower my exposure to pesticides and protect others?
  • Do not use pesticides on your lawn and garden. Chemical pesticides are poisons and should only be used as a last resort and with extreme caution.
  • Check if your lawn care company or local home centres offer alternatives that are pesticide-free. 
  • Do not dispose of pesticides in the garbage or recycling. Rather, take your old or unused pesticides to one of the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Drop Off Days
  • Ensure items such as children’s toys, pet bowls, clothing, and food are put away before pesticides are applied by you, your neighbour, or a lawn care specialist. 
  • Keep pets, children and toys indoors before and after pesticides are applied.
  • If you are using pesticides on your lawn or garden, make sure to read the label and select the appropriate product for your problem and follow proper health and safety procedures (e.g. wear protective clothing, measure concentrations accurately and in a well-ventilated outdoor area, only apply to target areas or plants).
  • Do not apply pesticides when it’s raining (or when rainfall is expected), on windy days, or on days where the temperature is expected to exceed 27˚C. 
  • Do not spray your pets. 
  • Check in with your family members and neighbours before you apply pesticides to ensure they take the appropriate precautions.
  • Post warning signs 24 hours prior to and 48 hours after application.
  • Soak up spills with disposable absorbent materials (sawdust, kitty litter, rags) and discard safely.
  • Get involved! Work with community organizations to reduce pesticide use in your community. 
Find more details on how to reduce your exposure to pesticides.

And remember…

Chemical pesticides are not a cure-all. Insects and weeds will never be eradicated. The safest, most affordable, and lowest effort alternative to pesticides is to develop a certain level of tolerance for some weeds and pests.

For more information on pesticide-free alternatives, visit:

[1] Bongyu, Pascal. (2012). Protecting public health and the environment: The need for a pesticide reduction bylaw in urban settings. A policy proposal for Saskatoon. Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Canadian Cancer Society, Lung Association of Saskatchewan.

[2] Sanborn, M., Kerr, K.J., Sanin, L.H., Cole, D.C., Bassil, K.L., Vakil, C. (2007). Non-Cancer health effects of pesticides: Systematic review and implications for family doctors. Canadian Family Physician,53:1712-1720.

Bassil, K.L., Vakil, C., Sanborn, M., Cole, D.C., Kaur, J.S., Kerr, K.J. (2007). Cancer health effects of pesticides: Systematic review. Canadian Family Physician, 53, 1704-1711.

[3] Arya N. (2005). Pesticides and human health: Why public health officials should support a ban on non-essential residential use. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 96, No. 2.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Purchase Compost and Mulch from Saskatoon’s Compost Depot at Highway 7 and 11th Street!

Visit the City of Saskatoon’s Compost Depot on Highway 7 and 11th Street to purchase compost and mulch (woodchips) for your lawn and garden at Compost Sale Saturdays!

The Compost Sale Saturday sales will occur from 9:00am to 3:00pm on:
  • Saturday, May 17th 
  • Saturday, May 24th 
  • Saturday, May 31st 
  • Saturday, September 6th 
  • Saturday, September 13th
The cost is $5 per bag for a 20L (5 gallon) bag of compost or a 40L (10 gallon) bag of mulch. There is no limit to the number of bags you may purchase. We will accept cash, credit card, or debit at the depot. You may also bring your own containers.

Compost is valuable, ready-to-use organic matter that can be added to your garden soil or lawn. It acts as a natural fertilizer, improves soil structure, increases water retention, and boosts the amount of good microbes in your yard. Mulch (e.g. woodchips) can be layered on top of the soil around flowers, vegetables, trees and shrubs to suppress weeds, retain moisture in the soil, and help protect plants from fluctuating temperatures and extreme weather. Adding compost and mulch to your yard will help you build a healthy lawn and garden that is resistant to pests, conserves water, and does not require additional fertilizer.

To find out more about compost and mulch, visit the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council’s website.

For directions to the compost depot on Highway 7 and 11th Street and other details relating to the City of Saskatoon’s composting programs, please visit and click on “C” for Composting.

**Please note: Sale dates may change as the result of bad weather or other unexpected circumstances.

Alternatives to Pesticide Use for your Lawn and Garden

Pesticide reduction has been an area of public support and interest in Saskatoon for a number of years. For example, the neighbourhood pesticide reduction campaigns managed between 2006 and 2011 by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society found that 869 of the participating households had declared themselves Pesticide Free.

The City of Saskatoon is partnering with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society again this year on the 2014 Be Pesticide Free campaign in order to raise awareness about the alternatives to pesticides.

It is important to remember that chemical pesticides are poisons and should only be used as a last resort and with extreme caution. There are a number of methods to create healthy, beautiful outdoor spaces without the use of pesticides. It is also important to learn which pests are harmful (e.g. bark beetles), and which can be tolerated (e.g. dandelions).

Here are a few alternatives to pesticides that will help you reduce weeds and pests, while also building a healthy lawn and garden.

  • Plant grasses that are adapted to our Saskatchewan climate (e.g. native grasses). 
  • Apply compost to your lawn to keep it healthy. You can purchase compost at the City of Saskatoon’s Compost Sale Saturdays or at home and garden centres. 
  • Use a sharp mower blade. 
  • Raise the mower blade height to keep grass 2-4 inches tall. 
  • Keep thatch ½ inch thick. 
  • Water only as needed – a good soaking of 1 inch per week is better than frequent shallow watering. 
  • Remove weeds by hand or garden tools, especially before they go to seed. 
  • Learn about Grasscycling to improve the health of your lawn. 
  • Read the Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s Ten Step Guide to a Healthy Lawn factsheet. 
Trees and Shrubs:
  • Remove infested leaves by hand or with a clean, sharp pair of garden shears. Dispose of them in the garbage (not in the compost). 
  • In late fall or early spring, prune infested or damaged branches. 

Vegetable and Flower Garden:
  • Apply a layer of mulch (e.g. woodchips, leaves) around your plants to reduce the growth of weeds and retain moisture in the soil. You can purchase mulch at the City of Saskatoon’s Compost Sale Saturdays or at home and garden centres. 
  • Whenever possible, dig out weeds by hand. 
  • Remove infested leaves by hand or with a clean, sharp pair of garden shears. Dispose of them in the garbage (not in the compost). 
  • Rotate annual crops each year to prevent the soil from being depleted of nutrients and to control soil-borne diseases. 
  • Read the Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s Ten Tips for a Healthy Garden factsheet. 
To find helpful tips on how to naturally manage weeds, insects, and other pests in your yard, visit

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pesticide Reduction by the City of Saskatoon

For a number of years, the City of Saskatoon has supported public education and awareness campaigns to reduce cosmetic pesticide use in our city. Again this year, the City has partnered with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society on the 2014 Be Pesticide Free campaign.

The Pest Management Section of the City of Saskatoon’s Parks Division is committed to the use of the least toxic control methods wherever possible to control pests (see the City of Saskatoon’s Integrated Pest Management System page for details). For example, the Parks Division maintains the health of turf in our parks and sports fields to make these areas more resistant to weeds and to reduce the need for pesticides. As such, herbicides have not been used since 2004 to control broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions, in these areas; rather, the Parks Division uses established cultural turf practices to improve the condition of the turf. The City of Saskatoon is also exploring innovative park management practices in Saskatoon’s naturalized parks, such as controlled burns, haying, and grazing, to reduce the need for pesticides, fertilizer, and extensive watering.

In addition to these pest management practices in City Parks, the City of Saskatoon’s mosquito control program no longer relies on any chemical control products to reduce populations of mosquitoes; instead, a series of alternatives are used, including biological, mechanical and cultural controls.

There are now 14 community gardens on City of Saskatoon land, and 5 more developing this summer. The City requires that all these gardens are pesticide free. As an alternative, some gardeners have used leaves as mulch around their vegetables in the gardens. These gardeners have found this practice to keep down weeds, help with water retention, and significantly cut down on the amount of labour required to grow a weed-free garden. At the end of the growing season, these leaves are worked into the soil to help build rich organic matter.

The City of Saskatoon also offers many programs to help residents build healthy lawns and gardens. By selling compost and mulch, offering rebates on rain barrels and compost bins, and supporting the Master Composter program, the City hopes to encourage healthy, pesticide-free yard practices in Saskatoon.

For more details, visit and the City of Saskatoon’s Pesticide Information page.