GTH minister rejects NDP's latest call for judicial inquiry, fires back
No land sales made at GTH during last fiscal year, but government says 673 acres sold between 2010 and 2018
The Saskatchewan government is once again ignoring the Saskatchewan NDP's call for a judicial inquiry into the Global Transportation Hub, instead accusing the opposition party of 'playing politics with highway safety.'
The NDP's latest public call for an inquiry comes in the aftermath of what the party called a "quiet release" of the GTH's annual report on Monday. The report showed no land sales between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019.
"This year's annual report sums up the failures of the Sask. Party to properly manage the GTH," critic Cathy Sproule said in a news release.
The NDP hammered the government on generating zero land sales despite budgeting for $7.7 million in revenue and an on an increase in the organization's debt level.
The annual deficit for the GTH now sits at $3.97 million, reduced from $4.9 million the previous year.
The GTH's total debt increased to more than $44.7 million in 2019 from $40 million the previous year. The government also has a loan from Royal Bank which rose to $32 million from $28 million the year before, the report shows.
The GTH did sell 673 acres of land at the GTH between 2010 and 2018. The government said this makes it clear "that the industry recognizes the unique opportunity and advantages" of the organization. There are 717 acres remaining to be sold or leased.
The government did not dispute Sproule's accusations of mismanagement, but did take issue with the idea that only one customer at the GTH is benefiting from the Regina Bypass.
"The bypass is a project that not only serves the many private sector employers at the GTH but is a project intended to make our roads and highways safer, serving many Saskatchewan citizens," Don Morgan, minister responsible for the GTH, said in an emailed statement.
"The NDP repeatedly called for the bypass to get truck traffic off of Regina roads especially Dewdney Avenue, which it succeeded in doing."
Morgan said there have been "several thorough and extensive reviews and investigations" into the GTH. The RCMP undertook an investigation into the GTH last year.
Police said the evidence found during their investigation into GTH land sales did not support criminal charges and the investigation was closed.
"This just goes to show where the NDP's priorities truly are — playing politics with highway safety, instead of supporting this important project," Morgan's statement concluded.