Meewasin Valley Authority faces money crunch
Saskatoon's river valley conservation agency struggles to keep up with urban growth
Saskatoon's rapid growth is putting the Meewasin Valley Authority in a financial squeeze.
"We're becoming more and more ineffective in terms of delivering what we believe the community expects of us," said Lloyd Isaak, the MVA's chief executive officer.
Government funding is not keeping pace with demands -- and inflation. This year the authority asked for a four per cent increase in its grant from the province. The province responded with no increase at all.
"Over the last 35 years our purchasing power has continued to erode," said Isaak."
"In today's dollars, per capita funding is less than a third of what it was three decades ago."
The MVA can't build walking and biking trails quickly enough for all the new neighbourhoods popping up.
"The cost of construction work has increased exponentially over the last five years or so. And our funding has not kept pace with that," Isaak said.
It's also under pressure to expand existing trails that are becoming congested with a growing number of people using them. And it's struggling to keep up with conservation work such as the northeast swale.
Isaak is also concerned about the interpretive centres at Beaver Creek and at the Meewasin Valley Centre in the city's downtown.
"Our facilities are beginning to show their age. They're in need of some refreshment. And it's one of those things that continues to degrade with the loss of our purchasing power every year," he said.
The City of Saskatoon, one of the MVA's major funders, is looking for a longer-term solution.
Meanwhile the provincial government is reviewing how well the MVA's programs are meeting its mandate.
Isaak hopes that leads to a funding review.
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