Minister muses about selling provincial GTH stake to City of Regina

The minister responsible for the Global Transportation Hub says the City of Regina could be a potential partner if the province were to sell its stake.

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere says no formal discussions to date on deal

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan, who is also responsible for the GTH, says the City of Regina could be a partner for the transportation hub.

The minister responsible for the Global Transportation Hub says the City of Regina could be a potential partner if the province were to sell its stake.

"We have not had a discussion with the City of Regina but they would certainly be someone that would be possibly a partner," said Don Morgan.

"I have not had a discussion with Mayor [Michael] Fougere but given the proximity I'm sure that would be something they would be interested in."

Morgan said the government has not discussed a deal with the city at a "caucus or a cabinet level."

"We have services agreements with the City of Regina and a lot of people [that work at GTH] would live in the city. I'm sure there would be a lot of synergies there," Morgan said.

No discussion, proper analysis: mayor

Morgan said he called Mayor Michael Fougere and told him what he told the media when he was asked about a potential sale. He said it was the first time the issue had been discussed.

Mayor Fougere said there have been no formal discussions or proposals concerning the city taking on the GTH.

He said if there is a proposal from the province he would take it city administration to "see whether it has merits, whether it's viable."

Fougere said he would also like to see a cost-benefit analysis and what a potential deal would mean for city taxpayers.

He added that it was "way too early to speculate."

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere says the province will have to make a proposal to the city if they want to make a deal on the GTH. (CBC)

The City of Regina recently approved an additional area of land on the east side of the city for industrial development. Fougere said the city is not flush with industrial space currently.

"We don't have a lot, there's no doubt about that. But I'm not even suggesting this would be part of our industrial strategy."

GTH and City of Regina have existing contracts 

According to the GTH's own annual report in 2016-17, it had two separate five-year contracts with the City of Regina, which expire Dec. 31, 2019. The contracts are for fire services and assessment and collection of property taxes, for which a service fee is calculated.

According to the same report, the GTH recorded $292,542 in remuneration to the City of Regina for 2016-2017. 

"I've gone back to the GTH management and board and said what's our long-term strategy, what can we do to improve the ability to sell land, what do we need to do for completion to make sure it's appealing and attractive to those that might want to use it," Morgan said.

GTH debt more is $37 million

At a recent third-quarter update the GTH forecasted $11 million more in public debt than what was initially budgeted for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which ends March 31. The forecasted debt is $37 million, up from the $26 million initially budgeted.

The GTH also failed to meet its target for land sales last fiscal year, bringing in $2.5 million compared to a budgeted $12.5 million. The same was true in 2015-2016, when it raked in $3.7 million of a budgeted $15.6 million.

The GTH west of Regina is $37 million in debt. (CBC)

GTH authority president and CEO Bryan Richards said at a Sep. 2017 government committee meeting time the GTH was carrying $24 million in debt with the Royal Bank and had failed to make a payment since the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

According to financial statements from 2014-2015, it had brought in $12.9 million in land sales that year—$18.2 million in total, factoring in money made from property taxes and permits.

The authority says its most successful financial year was 2013-2014, when it tallied $36 million in sales from land revenue, largely due to SaskPower purchasing 145 acres for $25 million.

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is a reporter and anchor at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

With files from CBC's Stephanie Taylor