Saskatchewan to get $300M in Fast-tracked Infrastructure Funding from Federal Government

Saskatchewan to get $300 million in fast-tracked infrastructure funding from federal government

Sean Trembath, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Saskatoon StarPhoenix 


The federal government will fast-track $300 million in spending for infrastructure in Saskatchewan, according to a spokesman for the federal government.

The exact timing of the spending is not yet finalized, but it should happen within months, said Brook Simpson, spokesman for federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, on Thursday.

“Essentially, the answer is ‘as soon as possible,’ ” Simpson said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced $700 million in federal funding for Alberta on Wednesday. Previous reports had indicated $1 billion was slated for Saskatchewan and Alberta combined. Simpson confirmed Thursday that Saskatchewan will get the remaining $300 million.

“That is still the plan and that is still on,” he said.

The money was originally announced in 2014 as part of the Conservative government’s New Building Canada Plan, but “for a variety of reasons” didn’t flow to Alberta, Notley said at Wednesday’s announcement.

Where the money goes in Saskatchewan will be determined by the provincial government, according to Simpson.

“The provinces consult with their municipalities, set their provincial priorities, listen to their municipal priorities and submit their list to the federal government,” he said.

Jim Reiter, minister of government relations for Saskatchewan, said the money will be a boost for the province.

“What it will do is it will get more infrastructure projects on the go quicker, which obviously helps for the economy. You’ve got folks working on those projects,” he said.

At the same time, the provincial government is hoping for additional increases.

“We will still be looking for some incremental funding for projects,” Reiter said.

The province should have no problem finding projects for the money to be used on within the federal government’s timetable of a few months, according to Reiter.

“We’ve got no shortage of applications and no shortage of demand, so we’ll certainly be able to fill a list.”

Richard Brown, spokesman for Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison, said any fast-tracking of infrastructure funding is welcome.

“It’s a good day for the citizens of Saskatoon,” Brown said.

Given that the money had previously been announced in 2014, the city already has plans for where some of it will go. 

“The priorities will not change, but we just might be able to move them on a little faster,” Brown said.

According to him, Saskatoon’s share of the $300 million is $70.2 million. He said the first priorities are two interchanges, one at Boychuk Drive and Highway 16 and another at McOrmand Drive and Highway 5, which will be submitted together at an estimated cost of $13 million.

Brown highlighted other projects the mayor has previously mentioned, including more interchanges at Marquis Drive and Highways 11 and 12 and Marquis Drive and Highway 16. 

Some of the money will also be used to fast-track less high-profile infrastructure projects, such as the replacement of pipes in the city’s water and sewer systems.

“They’re not sexy, but they’re important,” Brown said.

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