Premier Brad Wall told he's not needed yet in Prince Albert, North Battleford

Officials in Prince Albert and North Battleford have asked Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall not to come to their cities as planned on Thursday, as they deal with the immediate challenges of the oil spill aftermath.

Visit from Wall, other ministers, to be rescheduled

An oil slick is passing through the City of Prince Albert via the North Saskatchewan River, prompting the city to shut off the intake to its water treatment plant from the river. (Matthew Garand/CBC)

Officials in Prince Albert and North Battleford have asked Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall not to come to their cities on Thursday, as they deal with the immediate challenges of the oil spill aftermath.

That put a halt to Wall's plan, announced earlier in the day Wednesday, to tour communities affected by the release of up to 250,000 litres of oil and solvent into the North Saskatchewan River last week.

Officials with Wall's office said both the city of Prince Albert and North Battleford were "appreciative" of the premier's offer and are "satisfied" with the provincial supports received to date.

The officials also said the premier will make the trip in the near future.

Speaking to reporters, Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said Wall and Minister of Government Relations Jim Reiter are not required on the ground at this time.

"The City of Prince Albert is focused on the operational side of the response right now," Dionne said.

"We believe these two officials will serve us better in Regina as they continue to supply the city with all the necessary support needed. I expressed to the premier that I will invite him at a later date to visit the city, and he has accepted that."

Saskatchewan premier discusses efforts to stop the spread of oil in the North Saskatchewan River 18:27
  

Meanwhile, Dionne said he had a "very productive conversation" with Husky's CEO on Wednesday, adding that the company responsible for an oil spill in Saskatchewan will be coming to the city on Thursday.

Dionne said the city received three commitments from Husky on Wednesday:

  • No. 1: "Husky will have an official station in Prince Albert tomorrow. So we'll have a direct link with Husky. We'll no longer be having conference calls. They have a senior official travelling here and will stay while this event is going on."
  • No. 2: "Husky insurance company has already arrived, and is setting up in P.A. and will start processing claims both from the city and businesses that are affected."
  • No. 3: Husky is paying for the "the foremost expert on oil and water," Dionne said. "He will be in our city on Saturday and Sunday to meet with myself and city officials to discuss the oil situation, and he thinks he has a solution to the intake. He believes he has developed the equipment that can be installed in an intake to stop the oil from entering into our system."

Dionne went on to say the possible solution to keeping oil from entering the water treatment plant would be a "big, big savior".

There will be no cost to the city.

Emergency pipeline efforts

Crews in Prince Albert, Sask., are deploying pipes and a pumping system in Little Red River Park, part of an effort to draw water from the Spruce River to supply the city's water treatment plant. (CBC)

Prince Albert city manager Jim Toye said a 30-kilometre waterline from the South Saskatchewan River to feed clean water to its treatment plant is nearly complete.

"The pipe has all been laid down. They are going to be hooking up the pumps and we still want to have that up and operating by late this week," Toye said.

As of Tuesday at 5 p.m., Toye said the city has been working with a backup water supply from a storm retention pond. 

"We are finding it has been a very, very good source of water," he said. "It's very high-calibre water, safe potable water that's going through the water treatment plant, and safe for our citizens to drink."

Prince Albert city manager Jim Toye said they have not had to issue any fines to businesses or residents for violating water restrictions. (CBC)

Toye said the city would have been without water as of today if it wasn't for such alternative measures. He added the city has never used such a source before and it is working well. 

"We have had very good support from the business community and our residents in reducing their water consumption, and we want to stress how important that is to continue until we have an additional resource," Toye said.

There is a $1,000 fine plus a $400 surcharge for violating the city's strict water restrictions.

"Our goal is that we not give one ticket and so far that's where we've been."