Canada and Sask. governments ink $900M infrastructure deal
Public transit, parks and internet access among projects that will get federal spending boost
An agreement between the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan will see nearly $900 million from the federal coffers pumped into the province's buses, parks, recreation facilities, internet access and other infrastructure projects over the next 10 years.
The two governments announced the bilateral agreement in Regina on Wednesday, with federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale saying the new agreement would give the province flexibility to address a wide spectrum and the "vast majority" of its needs.
"That's the quantum leap forward that's being taken today."
The federal government's Investing in Canada plan will see $180 billion handed out across the country, over 12 years, to public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and rural and northern communities.
The province had held off on signing a deal with the federal government. Gord Wyant, Saskatchewan's minister responsible for SaskBuilds, said Saskatchewan was looking for more flexibility, particularly when it came to spending on public transit.
Originally, Saskatchewan's funding for public transit was to be $307 million, which exceeded the demands from the province's municipalities, said Wyant.
"Having that money redirected to the other funding streams where it could be properly used, I think, was important for us," he said, adding that other ministers from across the country are seeking their own flexibility to determine where money is spent.
Beyond public transit, the money will also be split into three other streams, including: green infrastructure; community, cultural and recreational infrastructure; and infrastructure for rural and northern communities.
According to a Government of Saskatchewan press release, Infrastructure Canada has already approved more than 120 projects worth more than $234 million in the province.
Projects will be cost-shared with the Saskatchewan government, municipalities and other partners, according to the release.
The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) welcomed the news, stating in a press release that Saskatchewan municipalities are responsible for more than half of all the public infrastructure in the province.
The new funding would help municipalities deliver clean drinking water, remove waste, provide recreation and more, according to SUMA president Gordon Barnahrt.
"Funding provided through the new bilateral agreement will help our hometowns maintain and improve the infrastructure that their residents rely on daily, enhancing quality of life in Saskatchewan."