Regina's Wascana Park has ally in federal minister Ralph Goodale
Provincial funding for the fourth largest urban park in Canada is under review
Ralph Goodale says he will leave provincial funding decisions to the province of Saskatchewan, but the Regina-Wascana MP — a cabinet minister in the federal Liberal government — says he will do what he can to protect Wascana Park, which he considers a fundamental part of Regina.
In the provincial budget, tabled on Wednesday, Finance Minister Kevin Doherty announced that provincial funding for five municipal parks in Saskatchewan had been cut.
Although Regina's Wascana Park wasn't targeted in the cost-saving measure, it doesn't mean the so-called "Jewel of Regina" is out of the woods.
The Wascana Centre Authority, which oversees the park, didn't lose its $3.6 million in annual funding, but the provincial support is under review.
Goodale, a long-time provincial and federal politician, has been a champion of Wascana Park in the past.
In 2004, Goodale — who was the federal minister of finance in the Liberal government of the day — decided Ottawa would help finance a revitalization project for Wascana Lake that became known as The Big Dig.
On Friday, in Regina, Goodale spoke passionately about the man-made lake and park.
"I certainly will work very hard to maintain its status because it's a very, very important part of Regina — from a cultural point of view, an economic point of view [and] a social point of view," he said.
Goodale was in Regina to take part in the announcement of a new $30-million bus maintenance facility for the city.
At that event, the future of Wascana Park was very much on his mind.
"It's just vital that Wascana Centre — and Wascana Park and Wascana Lake — remain clean, strong and healthy."
Last year Wascana Centre said it needed $2 million for urgent upgrades.
Repairs were required for roads, trails and the centre's water and sewer systems. Upgrades are also needed for a failing 60-year old irrigation system.
According to officials from the Wascana Centre Authority, over the next 10 to 15 years the park needs to spend almost $70 million to renew its infrastructure — and no funding source has been identified for that work.
The mayor of Regina, Michael Fougere, has said it would be impossible to renew Wascana Centre's infrastructure without provincial money.