Cities hopeful after federal funding boost

By Glenn Hicks
October 5, 2018 - 8:00am

Mayors in two of the larger cities in the region say they’re encouraged more money is coming from the federal government for infrastructure projects.

Just under $900 million over the next ten years was announced by Ottawa for Saskatchewan on Wednesday. The money can be used across a variety of areas including roads, airports, public transit, waste water, and green projects.

“That money is big for the province and it’s big for us,” Prince Albert mayor Greg Dionne told paNOW. He said the city would be applying for a number of projects. To be approved they require matching funds from Regina and the municipality.

“We have a lot of infrastructure needs including the water reservoir off Marquis Road to add to the one going up on River Street,” Dionne said. “Plus, there’s other water and sewer needs and the big upgrade to Central Avenue.” Dionne said various applications would be put together before the spring 2019 deadline.

In announcing the new money this week the federal government said there would be an emphasis on communities below 5,000 residents as well as the North. Dionne was not concerned that meant Prince Albert might not be at the top of the pecking order for funding.

“No, we are the hub of the North, “he said. “They want to help the smaller communities …but we all pay into the pool and I believe we should all have equal access.”

However, Dionne wasn’t overly optimistic the funding meant a new bridge over the river was more likely sooner than later, saying he didn’t think the funding included bridges. He did stress though that the funding rules weren’t clear yet.

Has Melfort’s time come?

Melfort hasn’t received a federal infrastructure grant for about ten years, according to Mayor Rick Lang, with the city always overlooked because of the enormity of demand across the province for previous funds from Ottawa. But he was hopeful some of the new money would come their way, calling it “another avenue to take care of ageing infrastructure.” He said the state of Main Street was a key priority

“The pipes are ageing and I know there was a time in the near past where we had seven water breaks all at the same time,” he said.

Lang was optimistic the city was in a position to come up with their one third share of the three-way funding split with the federal and provincial governments.

“I’ll go out on a limb and say if we got approval on a program we would find the money.”

 

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