SASKATOON -- The CEO of the Meewasin Valley Authority says she’s excited Saskatoon will be part of a new network of national urban parks.

Andrea Lafond says she’s looking forward to getting community input on a design that meets the needs of a wide population.

“Meewasin is truly special in this region and we cannot wait to shine a spotlight nationally and internally on the environmental and economic benefits of conserving space,” Lafond said.

“It’s a great opportunity to engage our entire region and work with the federal government to take a look at Meewasin and what’s out there for the future.”

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Minister Responsible for Parks Canada Jonathan Wilkinson announced the network on Wednesday.

The cost is pegged at $130 million.

“Investing in a network of national parks in a down payment on a long term vision and plan to build a nature-positive and carbon-neutral future,” Wilkinson said.

According to Wilkinson, the federal government also has interest from Winnipeg, Windsor, Colewood, Edmonton, Montreal and Halifax.

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said usage of the Meewasin trails has doubled over the course of the pandemic.

“Throughout this pandemic, this valley rejuvenated me, whether it was walking with my family and my dog or going for runs in the winter, during all the chaos and the uncertainty we faced during the pandemic.”

Former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow, one of the founding members of the MVA, attended the announcement.

“I’m overwhelmed with joy. This has been a project since 1979 or even longer and to see it progress the way it has and now to hear the announcement and the possibilities the announcement leads to, is wonderful.”