Regina Mayor picks pools over political sides

Regina Mayor says that, despite political bickering, two Regina pools will get upgrades

Fougere wants political squabble to stop and swimming to start

Two outdoor pools in Regina are caught in the middle of a political spat between the province and the federal government. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

Saskatchewan is in a dispute with Ottawa over how millions in federal infrastructure dollars will flow to projects in different communities.

On one side of the pool, the feds are saying there is money to renovate two outdoor pools in Regina's downtown. On the other side you find the province saying there isn't any money available and that the federal government is trying to win votes in the next election.

The two pools in need of repairs are Wascana and Maple Leaf. Wascana Pool is open for the 2019 season and will be closed for renovations in the 2020 season. Maple Leaf Pool is closed for the 2019 season and should re-open for the 2020 season.

Lesley Farley is a longtime swimmer at Maple Leaf Pool and wants it to stay open (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Lesley Farley, a regular at Maple Leaf Pool, said the pool is all about creating opportunities for kids, not about politics. She wants to make sure money goes to completing the projects and that the pool in the Heritage area continues to be part of her community.

Farley's concerns were heard by the city.

On Wednesday, Saskatchewan NDP municipal relations critic Trent Wotherspoon accused the province of putting politics over people during a news conference at Maple Leaf Pool, calling the situation, "a silly standoff that's clearly out of line with the priorities of Regina, clearly out of line with families here in this community."

Wotherspoon claimed the Saskatchewan Party government was "punting" costs of the pools that would have been covered by the province to the taxpayers of Regina in an "exorbitant way."

Municipal relations critic with the Saskatchewan NDP claims the Government of Saskatchewan is choosing politics over people in the dispute around funding for two pools that require rebuilds in Regina. (Germain Wilson/CBC)

Deputy Premier Gordon Wyant said in a statement the government recognized the importance of the pools, saying it continues to work toward "an equitable balance of funding" for the communities that have applied, but said the federal government must transfer funds from Saskatoon and Regina's transit fund so this can be achieved.

 "While the Saskatchewan NDP have joined Ralph Goodale in focusing on two swimming pools in Mr. Goodale's riding, our government is focused on balancing the competing priorities of community projects across the province," Wyant said in the statement, adding this includes balancing 23 swimming pool applications against more than 400 other CCR applications.

Mayor Michael Fougere told CBC's Morning Edition that despite the squabbling between to the levels of government he is committed to finding the money in the City's budget to complete those projects.

When asked if this would impact taxes in Regina, he was uncertain where the money was going to come from. Fougere said he hopes the two sides can come together and find the money needed to finish the project without having to go into the city's coffers.

With files from CBC Saskatchewan's Morning Edition


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