The company behind a proposed $25-million tire plant may pull the plug on plans to locate on the outskirts of Regina — and instead set up in Manitoba — as the rural municipality and city spar over development plans for the area.
Kal Tire has the support of the Rural Municipality of Sherwood to build near the new Global Transportation Hub on the western edge of Regina.
The mayor of Regina, however, says a comprehensive development plan should be in place before detailed proposals are approved.
That has the tire company expressing concerns for its business plans.
'If we don't have a decision within the next week or so, we're going to have to change gears.'—Murray Weeks, Kal Tire
"We're at a point now where, in the next week or so, we have to make a decision to move on," Murray Weeks, the director of real estate for Kal Tire, told CBC News Thursday. "If we don't have a decision within the next week or so, we're going to have to change gears."
Weeks said the location they have their eye on, near Pinkie Road, would be the site of a tire distribution centre, and may include a retreading component.
The site falls under the jurisdiction of the RM, however provincial approval is needed for zoning changes required to accommodate the plant.
The city of Regina has input on that and would also play a role in providing some infrastructure services.
Regina's executive committee of city council, however, threw water on the plan after a meeting on Wednesday, with a vote expressing opposition to the development.
"We need to have greater collaboration," Regina mayor Michael Fougere said after the meeting. "We need to come to an agreement on the costing and the timing of it, because it has a direct impact on the rate payers of the city and our ability to serve our people within the city."
Ultimately, provincial officials may determine the fate of the project.
Premier wants change
Sparring between local municipalities has been a sore point for Premier Brad Wall, who recently identified the issue as something that needs to be addressed.
"We need to solve this," Wall said in a recent speech. "We can't hold back economic development opportunities because of some of the issues we've been facing."
Joe Garcea, a professor of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan, says friction among local governments is partly the result of a representation system that counts some 800 municipalities, for a province of barely one million people.
"We just haven't kept pace with the change in transportation and technology that allows us to have a different governance structure today than what was possible way back in 1905," Garcea said.
He notes that other provinces have promoted amalgamations of local municipalities or encouraged regional development organizations with real authority.
"Those governments have all done that to try and address the very problems that confront us," Garcea noted. "The question is: Will Saskatchewan do the same?"
Fougere criticized by RM
Late Thursday afternoon the RM of Sherwood issued a written statement calling out Fougere as being anti-development.
According to the release, the RM has been working with several developers on various projects and had been, in its view, sensitive to Regina's interests.
It claims it needs a small change to zoning to move some plans forward.
"The RM ... is very surprised that the city would put these proposed developments at risk by refusing to support the zoning changes," the release said.
The RM went on to criticize newly elected Mayor Fougere directly.
"Especially troubling is Mayor Fougere's statement that approval of any future developments should wait until the city updates its own [plans]," the release said.
The RM said Fougere's "tone" was a source of disappointment, especially since he is only a few days into his four-year term as mayor.