The City of Saskatoon and Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the development of a new hydropower generation station at the location of the Saskatoon Weir. Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark and STC Tribal Chief Mark Arcand signed the agreement at TCU Place during the First Nations Power Authority 2017 Western Canadian Indigenous Renewable Energy Forum.
“Partnerships like this are opportunities to put the concept of Reconciliation into action,” says Charlie Clark, mayor of Saskatoon. “This project gives us a chance to learn the best way to generate renewable power for future generations, where we can create economic opportunity for the Tribal Council and City of Saskatoon while also preserving the integrity of our cherished river valley.”
“The TRC Calls to Action state that Indigenous peoples should receive equal opportunity to access lasting sustainable benefits from economic development projects,” says tribal chief Mark Arcand. “The hydropower project’s equal ownership model exemplifies the true spirit and intent of reconciliation.”
First Nations Power Authority (FNPA) is an Indigenous not-for-profit advisory service with a mandate to support Indigenous communities and businesses in advancing their active investment in the power sector. For this project, FNPA, via its 10-year Master Agreement with SaskPower, supports STC activities in this project as a facilitator, a developer and an owner’s representative throughout the development process, to ensure Indigenous interests are maximized.
While pre-feasibility studies concluded this project was technically feasible, economically viable, and would cause no significant environmental disruption, the next step will be a full feasibility study for a jointly owned hydropower station at this location.
Some of the benefits of this project will include:
- Expanding the City’s clean-power generation program to hydropower;
- Restoration and upgrade of the current weir infrastructure;
- 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;
- Opportunities for First Nations employment, training and education; and
- Generation of investment returns that will enable the STC to support community infrastructure and social programs in member communities.
The total estimated cost of the project is between $60 and 65 million, which is expected to be funded by the STC and private-sector partners, off-set by revenue generated by the power station and funding from other green-energy funding sources.