Saskatchewan

How much money does Saskatchewan give Meewasin, Wascana?

After the provincial budget announced funding cuts to five urban parks, Regina's Wascana Centre and Saskatoon's Meewasin Valley payments from the province are under review.

Sask. budget announcement cut funding to some urban parks; future of Meewasin and Wascana unclear

The Meewasin Valley Authority's master plan will be before Saskatoon council again. (Meewasin Valley Authority)

The province announced its budget on Wednesday as well as its plans to cut funding of five urban parks in the province.

The finance minister also said the province's part in funding the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon and the Wascana Centre in Regina are also under review.

Currently, each of the two parks' funding from the province will stay the same, however, both parks' boards say they need more money to maintain what they offer for the public. 

Meewasin Valley Authority and Wascana Centre each receive funding from other sources, including their surrounding cities. 

Here's a breakdown of what the province currently pays into those parks' overall budgets:

Wascana Centre

  • In Regina, the province pays $3.6 million toward Wascana Centre.
  • The province's cash accounts for approximately 39 per cent of the park's annual budget. Other funding partners include the city and University of Regina, as well as revenues from rentals, grants, donations and fundraising. Its budget is approximately $9.14 million dollars. That factors in approximately $2 million of money on top of the university, city, and province's money.

Meewasin Valley Authority

  • In Saskatoon, the province pays $909,000 toward Meewasin Valley.
  • Meewasin Valley's money from the province makes up approximately 20 per cent of the park's annual budget. The City of Saskatoon, the University of Saskatchewan and donations cover the rest of the statutory funding. In 2015, the park had a total budget of $4.5 million, including the additional $2 million raised by Meewasin.

Last fall, Wascana Centre officials said it needs $2 million in 'urgent' core upgrades to 'ensure public safety'. It includes roads, trails, water and sewer systems, and an upgrade to its 60-year old irrigation system, which is failing. 

Over the next 10-15 years, its infrastructure shortfall has been estimated to be close to $70 million.

Funding cuts to urban parks

The five municipal parks that found their provincial funding on the chopping block in yesterday's budget include:

  • Wakamow in Moose Jaw.
  • Chinook Parkway in Swift Current.
  • Pehonan in Prince Albert.
  • River Valley in Battlefords.
  • Tatagwa in Weyburn.

In total, their funding from the province came to $540,000 in savings for the province, however advocates for the parks say it could spell disaster for them as municipalities can't necessarily pick up the cost. 

Association of Saskatchewan Urban Parks and Conservation president Nancy Styles said yesterday tears ran down her face after hearing about the plan to cut funding. 

"I spoke to the minister and told him it would've been nice to hear this before because ... I know it's going to be very difficult for these parks to come up with this money and maybe the cities will help, maybe they won't," she said. 

Association of Saskatchewan Urban Parks and Conservation president Nancy Styles reacts to funding cuts for urban parks in the 2016 provincial budget. 0:16

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the province pays $2.2 million toward Meewasin Valley, making up 45 per cent of the park's annual budget, while the City of Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan cover the rest. In fact, the province pays $909,000 toward Meewasin Valley. In addition to the City of Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan funding, the park raised $2 million, making the provincial government funding 20 per cent of the park's budget.
    Jun 03, 2016 9:00 AM CT