Tuesday, 12 February 2019

EcoSask News, February 12, 2019

honey bee

Upcoming Events
Waterfowl & Wetland Conservation, Feb. 15 (Saskatoon)
Howie Harshaw will share insights from waterfowl hunter and birdwatcher surveys into the human dimensions of waterfowl and wetland conservation at 3:30 pm, Feb. 15, as part of the WildEcol seminar series at the U of S.

Repair Café Prince Albert, Feb. 16 (Prince Albert)
Share and learn skills to repair things at Repair Café Prince Albert from 1-4 pm, Feb. 16.

Wascana Solar Co-op Group Buy, Feb. 16 (Regina)
Wascana Solar Co-op’s next group buy will be opening on Feb. 16 and will close Mar. 31. Contact groupbuy@wascanasolarco-op.com to apply and for additional information.

South American Birds, Feb. 18 (Regina) 
Ed Rodger will give an overview of the South American pampas and birds from 7:30-9:30 pm, at the Feb. 18 meeting of Nature Regina.

Urban, Native & Invasive Plant Species, Feb. 19 (Regina) 
Join WUQWATR from 1-4 pm, Feb. 19, at the Sunrise Library for an information session about urban, native, and invasive plant species. There will be family-friendly activities such as seed planting. Contact WUQWATR at 306-529-5125 or Courtney@wuqwatr.ca to reserve your free spot!

Bridging the Gap, Feb. 19 (Saskatoon) 
Climate Justice Saskatoon will share their experience talking to people in the coal-producing communities of Estevan and Coronach from 7-8:30 pm, Feb. 19, as part of the Sustainable Speaker Series organized by the Saskatoon Public Library and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society.

Composting at Innovation Place, Feb. 19 (Saskatoon)
Saskatoon’s Innovation Place has launched a pilot organic waste management program. Tenants can find out more about this program at lunchtime on Feb. 19.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

honey bee

In the News
The Electronic Recycling Association's Saskatoon depot collects unwanted/malfunctioning computers and electronic devices and donates the refurbished items to Canadian charities.

Premier Scott Moe has likely already won big by taking on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the carbon tax.

It's not enough to simply establish an urban nature reserve. It will require ongoing monitoring and community education. A bronze statue of a beaver wouldn't hurt either.

Gathering customer feedback is vital for non-profits as well as businesses.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Seedy Saturday/Sunday & Other Green Thumb Activities in Saskatchewan

seed pods

It’s never too soon to start planning ahead for spring planting. Below are upcoming Seedy Saturday and Sunday events across Saskatchewan as well as a list of organizations hosting garden-related events.

Seedy Saturday/Sunday 
Yorkton, February 23 
Yorkton Seedy Saturday will be held from 11 am-4:30 pm, Feb. 23, at SIGN on Broadway. Buy or swap seeds, local crafters/homesteading/canning, and more.

Prince Albert, February 24 
Prince Albert Seedy Sunday will be held from 1-5 pm, Feb. 24, at the John M. Cuelenaere Library. Exchange seeds, buy heirloom seeds, learn about the importance of healthy soil, and kids can make seed bombs.

Lanigan, February 28 
Lanigan Seedy Thursday will be held from 5:30-8:30 pm, Feb. 28, at the Lanigan Branch Library. There will be a small garden talk and question and answer at 6:30 pm.

Regina, March 2
Regina Seedy Saturday will be held from 10 am-3 pm, Mar. 2, at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral (1861 McIntyre Street). Talk gardening, buy seeds, enjoy the kids’ area, and get advice on how to plan your garden.

Moose Jaw, March 3
Moose Jaw Seedy Sunday will be held from 10 am-2 pm, Mar. 3, at the Moose Jaw Public Library.

Saskatoon, March 9 
Saskatoon Seedy Saturday will be held from 10 am-3 pm, Mar. 9 at Station 20 West.

Indian Head, March 10
Indian Head Seedy Sunday will be held from 1-4 pm, Mar. 10 at the Indian Head Heritage Club (505 Otterloo Street).

North Battleford, March 23
North Battleford Seedy Saturday will be held from 12-4 pm, Mar. 23, in the Don Ross Centre Craft Room.

Meadow Lake, March 24
Meadow Lake Seedy Sunday will be held the afternoon of Mar. 24 at the Meadow Lake Senior Citizens Activity Centre.

For information about Seedy Saturday events across Canada, check the Seeds of Diversity website.

seed pod

Additional Green Thumb Activities/Organizations 
Blazing Star Wildflower Seed Company 
Blazing Star Wildflower Seed Company supplies native wildflower and heirloom vegetable seeds and plants for gardens and restoration projects.

Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is offering a two-day training for individuals interested in joining Saskatoon’s team of compost coaches on March 2 and 3. Email compost@swrc.ca for more details.

Edible Landscapes Permaculture Design and Consulting (Regina) 
Over the next few months, Edible Landscapes Permaculture Design and Consulting will be offering urban/edible perennial plant walks and foraging tours, an 18-hour course on edible and medicinal plants, and an introduction to permaculture.

Immersed in Nature (Saskatoon) 
Immersed in Nature Photography will be offering nature immersion walks this spring and summer. Check their Facebook page for details.

Permaculture (Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon)
Join your local permaculture association:
Permaculture Regina
Permaculture Research Institute of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon)
Prince Albert Parkland Permaculture Guild

Regina Horticultural Society (Regina) 
The Regina Horticultural Society holds monthly educational events.

Seed Libraries (Prince Albert, Saskatoon) 
Seed libraries provide free access to viable native open-pollinated seeds.
Prince Albert Seed Library
Saskatoon Seed Library

The Garden Patch (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre’s Garden Patch offers a wide variety of workshops throughout the gardening season. Check their Facebook page for details.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

EcoSask News, February 5, 2019


Upcoming Events
Owls on Tour, Feb. 9 (Regina)
Meet and learn more about burrowing owls at Cabela’s Regina at 2 pm, Feb. 9.

Wascana Winter Birds & Wildlife, Feb. 9 (Regina)
Nature Regina members will look for winter birds and wildlife in Wascana Park from 9 am to noon, Feb. 9.

The Magic of Trees, Feb. 13-Mar. 14 (Saskatoon)
Lee Dorey’s exhibit reminds us of the mystery and magic of trees and is on display at the Frances Morrison Library Gallery from Feb. 13-Mar. 14.

Young Leader Nature Grant, Feb. 15
Under 30? Apply by Feb 15 to Nature Canada for a young nature leader grant of $1000 for project implementation.

Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 15-18
Everyone of all ages and degree of expertise is invited to take 15 minutes from Feb. 15-18 to record the birds they see on the Great Backyard Bird Count website.

Looking Ahead
Project Wet, Mar. 16 (Regina)
SaskOutdoors is hosting a Project Wet workshop for K-12 teachers in Regina from 9:30 am-3:30 pm, Mar. 16.

Workforce Connex Saskatchewan: Indigenous Renewable Connections, Mar. 20
Indigenous employees, students, and businesses along with renewable energy employers and industry are invited to make connections and build relationships at the Workforce Connex event at the U of S, Mar. 20 from 8:30 am-4:30 pm.

Basic Wildlife Rehab. Course, Apr. 6-7 (Saskatoon)
Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation is hosting a two-day introduction to wildlife rehabilitation on Apr. 6 & 7 in Saskatoon.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
The Supreme Court ruling isn’t enough. Regulations are needed to address the problem of inactive or orphan oil and gas wells.

Wildlife-friendly road infrastructure can dramatically reduce collisions - and save people money.

Modernizing urban freight deliveries - micro hubs and cargo cycles.

Central Alberta citizens have banded together to fight a huge new water licence for fracking on their local river, a tributary to the North Saskatchewan River, the source of Edmonton's water.

We need to make sure we source green tech minerals in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Friday, 1 February 2019

The Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy


The federal and provincial governments are providing financial support for a geothermal energy plant in southeastern Saskatchewan. DEEP Geothermal’s plant will drill down 3.5 kilometres into the hot sedimentary base of the Williston Basin, making it the deepest well ever drilled in the province. The geothermal fluid will be pumped through heat exchangers, creating steam to drive the generators. Brine from the source well will be re-injected into the ground.

Geothermal energy uses heat stored in the earth’s core to generate electricity. The earth’s core is hot enough to melt rocks, creating magma. Sometimes the magma escapes as lava, but it normally stays below the earth’s surface heating the surrounding rocks and water. The heated water can form hot springs or geysers, but it usually remains below ground in geothermal reservoirs. By drilling into the reservoir, hot water can be pumped up to the surface and used to generate electricity or heat individual buildings. In some locations, if there is no water or steam to extract, the rock is cracked and water forced through it to be heated and pumped for use. This is referred to as enhanced geothermal.

Although geothermal energy provides only a very small proportion of energy worldwide (0.3%), it makes a much more significant contribution in some areas. Geothermal plants produce approximately 30% of Iceland’s electricity, while geothermal heating meets the heating and hot water requirements for 87% of the nation’s housing.

The proponents of geothermal energy are quick to point out its many benefits with SaskPower’s website noting its reliability, lack of emissions, and small environmental footprint. Unfortunately, very few things in life are quite that simple, and geothermal energy is no exception. The pros and cons of geothermal energy are mixed and complex.


Reliability: Unlike wind and solar energy, geothermal energy is not limited to certain days or times of day. Many view it as a renewable resource, but that is not the case if the groundwater reservoirs are depleted. Similarly, aggressive extraction can surpass natural limits resulting in financial losses as the power plant is unable to function at full capacity.

Location & Cost: In theory, geothermal energy can be produced anywhere, but it is a much more reasonable proposition when the heat is close to the earth’s surface as is the case in Iceland. Geothermal power plants have much higher up-front costs than other power plants. One can only assume that costs, both financial and environmental, will rise the deeper one has to dig to reach the heated rock and water.

Geological Stability: Extracting and re-injecting hot fluids into the ground can cause the ground to settle and may generate earthquakes. In most cases, the earthquakes associated with geothermal energy production have been minor, but concerns have been raised by larger earthquakes in Switzerland and South Korea near enhanced geothermal facilities.

Re-injecting spent fluids into the well is supposed to prevent land subsidence by replenishing the reservoir; however, the fracking industry’s practice of reinjecting waste liquids into disposal wells has been linked to earthquake activity. Recent seismic activity near a fracking site in northeastern British Columbia measured between 3.4 and 4.5 magnitude.

Health & Environmental Problems: The water or steam that is brought to the surface often contains hydrogen sulphide, which is released into the environment as gas, causing health and environmental problems. Concerns have already been raised in Saskatchewan about leaking gas from fracking operations - will the geothermal plant generate similar concerns? Reports indicate that hydrogen sulphide from geothermal plants has increased the seriousness of respiratory problems and asthma in Reykjavik. Hydrogen sulphide can also lead to “increased corrosion of metals, increasing the costs of replacement of circuit boards and other complicated electronics.”

Noise pollution can be substantial during drilling, construction, and operation, affecting both nearby residents and wildlife. It will be interesting to see whether this concern is adequately addressed by a German company constructing a 50 MW geothermal facility in the heart of Munich. The company’s noise prevention measures include “ongoing measurements in order to be able to locate and control noise sources immediately, noise barriers, a particularly quiet drilling rig and adapted construction site logistics. Thus, the noisy delivery and unloading almost exclusively during the day.”

Pipes can leak, and DEEP Geothermal’s CEO acknowledges the importance of monitoring the pipes carrying the brine, particularly in an agricultural area.

Water Supply: Geothermal processes use a lot of water and may require external water sources to maintain their operations. Is there an adequate water supply in southeastern Saskatchewan to meet the needs of residents, agriculture, recreation, and nature as well as industry?

Wildlife & Natural Beauty: Has a detailed environmental assessment been carried out to examine the potential impact of the geothermal activities near Estevan on wildlife and plants? A geothermal facility in Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya, contains “Miles and miles of pipes – some high enough off the ground that trucks can pass underneath and giraffes won’t hit their heads” - carrying steam to huge power plants also located in the park. One can only question the impact this has on wildlife and tourism, a major economic driver in East African countries.


It’s great to see money being invested in a renewable energy project, particularly one in southeastern Saskatchewan, which has been for so long reliant on coal for employment and a strong economy. However, let’s make sure that all the potential risk factors receive due consideration and mitigation. All necessary steps must be taken to protect humans, wildlife, and nature.

Further Information:
Geothermal Energy Pros and Cons
10 Geothermal Energy Pros and Cons 
How Does Geothermal Drilling Trigger Earthquakes? 
South Korea’s Most-Destructive Quake Probably Triggered by Geothermal Plant
The Hidden Price of Iceland’s Green Energy
Saskatchewan Firms Aims to Build Canada’s First Geothermal Facility

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

EcoSask News, January 29, 2019


Upcoming Events
Pesticides in the Prairie Pothole Region, Feb. 1 (Saskatoon) 
Egina Malaj will discuss the ecological assessment of pesticides in the Prairie Pothole Region at 3:30 pm, Feb. 1, as part of the WildEcol seminar series at the U of S.

AB/SK Renewable Energy Summit, Feb. 4-5 (Calgary) 
Find out about renewable energy project and investment opportunities at the AB/SK Renewable Energy Summit, Feb. 4-5, in Calgary.

Retro-commissioning, Feb. 6 (Saskatoon)
Ken Coutu will discuss retro-commissioning at the Feb. 6 breakfast meeting of the Energy Management Task Force.

Project Wet, Feb. 8 (Saskatoon) 
SaskOutdoors is hosting a Project Wet workshop on Feb. 8 at the University of Saskatchewan.


Looking Ahead
Nature Play: Winter Edition, Feb. 12 (Saskatoon) 
Early years educators are invited to discover ways to embed outdoor learning experiences in their winter program from 1-3 pm, Feb. 12.

Cold Weather First Aid, Feb. 16 (Saskatoon) 
SaskOutdoors and Back40 Wilderness First Aid Training are offering anyone who plays outside a short refresher in winter first aid skills for hypothermia and minor injuries from 1:30-4 pm, Feb. 16.

True Nature Writing, Feb. 28-Mar. 21 (online) 
SaskOutdoors is partnering with writer Joyce Belcher to offer a 4-session, online class in nature writing from Feb. 28-Mar. 21.

Building Operator Training, Mar. 1 (Regina), Mar. 29 (Saskatoon) 
Do you operate a building? Would you like to save money? The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is offering a building operator training course in energy conservation on Mar. 1 in Regina and Mar. 29 in Saskatoon.

SWRC Waste Reforum, Apr. 10-12 (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council will be hosting their annual conference in Saskatoon from Apr. 10-12. The theme is Home Grown: Local Problems. Local Solutions. There will be a pre-conference workshop on Applying Design Thinking to Recycling Right.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

In the News
Saskatchewan's methane regulations ignore more than 40% of the province's methane emissions, contain loopholes, and lack strong measurement and reporting standards.

Coyotes and foxes help fight Lyme disease by killing rodents.

Starting in 2020, all new homes in California will have rooftop solar.

Offering everything from cement mixers to air compressors as well as classes in how to use them, the West Philly Tool Library makes home repairs and maintenance more affordable.

Vancouver is initiating a one-year mentorship program to assist young women to became climate leaders in their field.

"If we're going to fly, it should be for truly extraordinary and important reasons."

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Transition Town Totnes

“Strengthening the local economy, reducing environmental impact & building resilience"

Totnes is a small town in the southwest of England that has become known world-wide as the birthplace of the Transition movement. The Transition Network is a grassroots “movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world.” Community groups crowdsource solutions to local problems and support each other’s efforts. The movement is now active in over 50 countries around the world.

Transition Town Totnes (TTT) continues to play an active role in its community and its small staff serve as an administrative hub for a wide variety of independent local projects. TTT’s goal is “to strengthen the local economy, reduce our environmental impact, and build our resilience for a future with less cheap energy and a changing climate.”

A great number of TTT's activities revolve around food. Totnes was one of the first to establish an Incredible Edible project planting vegetables, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers in public and unused spaces around the town. They also planted fruit and nut trees, inviting community members to become tree guardians and care for the trees. Totnes 10 strives to connect local shoppers with local food through a local food map, farmers’ stories, and a food festival. Grown in Totnes produced locally grown grains and pulses. The project is now being run by a group of organizations with a mill selling flour from locally grown grain to a bakery and the general public.

The Open Eco Homes Weekend is an opportunity to visit homes that are reducing their environmental impact and utilizing renewable energy. Owners, and often builders and suppliers, are on hand to discuss how they undertook their project, the challenges they encountered, and their solutions. Running in parallel to the Open Eco Homes Weekend is the Eco and Community Homes Fair where the public can meet “suppliers of eco-friendly goods and services, home energy installers, eco-builders, architects and others, learn about how to make your home more energy efficient and eco-friendly, and find out about community led housing solutions.”

After many years and much hard work, Transition Homes will be constructing 27 eco homes. Seventy percent of the homes will be affordable rental and shared ownership for local people.

The TTT Film Festival is a biannual event showcasing “films from around the world providing hope, inspiration and imaginative solutions to the challenges of our time.” Films shown in 2018 included The Worm is Turning: Ecological Farming: The Real Revolution, Human Flow (about human migration), and Albatross (about ocean plastic pollution). There is also a monthly film club.

The Local Entrepreneur Forum began in 2012/13 and has been very successful. Would-be entrepreneurs present their projects and local people are invited to invest in them. Support comes in many, many forms: providing land, marketing expertise, a promise to buy the product. A local volunteer says, “It’s a fantastic feeling of people coming together and helping and supporting each other.”

The Skillshare project encourages individuals to share their knowledge and skills with others. Past projects have included a rammed earth project, willow weaving, and making lanterns.

Celebrations and Challenges 
Part of Transition Town Totnes’ strength lies in inviting people to work on issues they are passionate about, rather than trying to channel volunteers into established projects. A local volunteer explains, “As I understand it, the aim of TTT was not to do things for people but to bring them together, to encourage, enable and support people to get involved in things about which they were passionate, and that has been its success.” Some of the projects go on to become autonomous, while others remain under the TTT umbrella. A small part-time staff provides some support, but it is limited due to the large number of projects.

Volunteers receive emotional support from Inner Transition, which looks at the inner changes that are needed to support the external. They offer mentoring as well as a weekly meditation group and share ways to maintain hope and work on healing the divisions within community.

For More Info: 
Essential Guide to Transition
Transition Town Bro Gwaun: Reducing Carbon Emissions and Building Community

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

EcoSask News, January 22, 2019

Yellow warbler with a worm

Upcoming Events
Bike to Work Day, Jan. 24 (Saskatoon)
Enjoy some fun on your way to work on Bike to Work Day, Jan. 24, in Saskatoon.

24 Hours in the Desert, Jan. 25 (Saskatoon)
Meaghan Hackinen will share what it takes to successfully complete a 24-hour bike race from 6:30-8:30 pm, Jan. 25.

SCYAP Bike Art Show (S. Ballard-McKinlay)

A Comfortable Nest, Jan. 25 (Saskatoon)
Join Lyndon Penner at Wild Birds Unlimited at 7 pm, Jan. 25, for a discussion on what birds need to build a nest.

Gone Wild for Wildlife, Jan. 26 (Saskatoon)
Meet hawks, bats, and snakes; dissect an owl pellet; make a pine cone bird feeder; and enjoy science experiments at Gone Wild for Wildlife from 10 am-5 pm, Jan. 26.

This Changes Everything, Jan. 27 (Regina)
This Changes Everything, a film about climate change vs. capitalism, will be shown at 6:30 pm, Jan. 27, at the Regina Public Library.

Walking Saskatoon, Jan. 27 (Saskatoon)
Everyone is invited to attend Walking Saskatoon’s meeting from 1-2:30 pm, Jan. 27.

Renewable Energy, Jan. 28 (Prince Albert)
Join RPIC to discuss renewable energy’s role in climate change and social justice at 6:30 pm, Jan. 28.

Loggerhead Shrikes, Jan. 28 (webinar)
PCAP-SK is hosting a webinar with Amy Chabot, Shrike Watch Canada, about loggerhead shrikes at noon, Jan. 28.

Birds of Saskatchewan Book Launch, Jan. 29 (Saskatoon)
Nature Saskatchewan will be launching their new book, Birds of Saskatchewan, at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 7 pm, Jan. 29.

Come and Grow, Jan. 31 (Saskatoon)
City of Saskatoon is holding an open house from 3-8 pm, Jan. 31, to discuss its plans for growth. Included in the discussion is the University Sector, which overlaps with the Northwest Swale.

Project Wild, Feb. 1 (Saskatoon)
SaskOutdoors is hosting a Project Wild workshop for educators at the University of Saskatchewan on Feb. 1.

Learn to Kiteski, Feb. 1-3 (Regina)
SaskOutdoors is offering an opportunity to learn to kiteski from Feb. 1-3 in Regina.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Citizen Science at the Swale (Saskatoon)
Contribute your observations of the Northeast Swale’s flora and fauna to iNaturalist’s Meewasin Northeast Swale project. You’ll be helping to establish an inventory for long-term monitoring.

In the News
“Issues like climate change require rapid transformations in both conservation and food production practices. Rather than perpetuating polarization, bold leadership should work toward consensus among groups. This must start with recognizing that food production and conservation are not opposing ends of the spectrum.”

SOS Elms December 2018 newsletter discusses urban forest challenges, including infill development and root protection.

Greystone Kids, a newly launched children’s book program, will be launching 6 new books this fall themes of nature and the environment. And, best of all, one of them - Hello, Crow! - is by Candace Savage.

Healthcare creates 10% of US greenhouse gas emissions - it needs to be part of the solution.

Six conservation movies for the whole family.

Naturalist poet Mary Oliver reminded us to be devoted to life:

Yellow warbler

“believe us, they say, it is a serious thing
just to be alive 
on this fresh morning 
in the broken world …"

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).