Labour Day Classic kicks off on time despite pre-game concerns of smoky air in Regina

The CFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders were keeping an eye on smoky air ahead of the Labour Day Classic against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium, but the game still started on time.

Earlier on Sunday, the Roughriders posted on X — formerly know as Twitter — that the organization, the Blue Bombers, the league and the players’ association were “continuously monitoring the air quality at Mosaic Stadium throughout the afternoon using in-stadium instruments.”

“With the help of strong south winds, levels have been steadily declining throughout the afternoon and currently sit well below the acceptable level to play football.”

The game kicked off as scheduled — with the Riders recovering an onside kick to get things started.

Poor air quality 

An Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) special air quality statement is in effect for the City of Regina as a plume of wildfire smoke continues to affect most of southern and central Saskatchewan.

At 4 p.m. CST Sunday, Environment and Climate Change Canada had Regina’s air quality health index (AQHI) at a level 8 — which is considered to be high risk. That is a drop from an AQHI of 10+ at 2 p.m. CST, which was considered to be very high risk. 

Throughout Sunday, the AQHI has been alternating between high risk and very high risk. 

Those levels of wildfire smoke could be harmful to everyone’s health and ECCC recommends limiting time outdoors and especially any strenuous activity. 

The AQHI is projected to drop to a seven — which is still considered high risk — by Sunday night, according to ECCC’s website.

“It was smokier in Swift Current earlier today and they’ve now cleared up a bit. I’m not going to say it’s super nice there, but they’re better than they were,” ECCC meteorologist Dan Fulton said on Sunday shortly after noon.

“So we’re kind of thinking that might improve things a little bit towards the evening in Regina and then maybe not a bad night for smoke. There’s still going to be smoke around but not quite as bad as it is now.”

Two Royal Canadian Air Force training jets were scheduled to fly over Mosaic Stadium at 4:55 p.m. to honour the Canadian Armed Forces.

On Thursday, the Royal Canadian Air Force said flybys are closely controlled for public safety and dependent on weather and flying conditions.

Fulton said the visibility in Regina on Sunday was about four kilometres in the smoke. He added that after a projected small reprieve on Sunday night, more smoke is expected to return to parts of the province on Monday.