Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark pleased about no further cuts to Meewasin funding
2017 budget halved conservation group's funding
Mayor Charlie Clark says he's happy the provincial government has kept funding for the Meewasin Valley Authority intact.
The conservation group, which oversees the South Saskatchewan River valley in and around Saskatoon, saw a funding cut of $409,000 in the 2017 budget.
"I think they're starting to understand that Meewasin is not an urban park," Clark told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "It's a regional program that offers a lot of value, not just in Saskatoon, but also in the regional area."
This fall, Meewasin scaled back the hours at its Beaver Creek Conservation Area, closing the area on weekends and holidays. It had also closed its public interpretive centre in downtown Saskatoon.
When Premier Scott Moe was asked about the issue during the Saskatchewan Party leadership race, he said money should be discontinued for municipal urban parks.
"Given the leadership race and given some of the comments that have been made about the province further backing away from Meewasin, this is a good news sign," said Clark.
Clark was also happy about the budget's move to restore a five per cent surcharge on SaskEnergy bills back to the city. He said the money was being allocated to the province's general revenues, and will not mean an increase on gas bills.
"SaskEnergy has been operating without compensation for any of the services the city provided," he said. "We have hundreds of kilometres of gas lines running underneath our roadways, we provide fire and protective services if we have any gas line problems."
Clark said the city is still suffering after $11.4 million in provincial grants-in-lieu was cut last year, as well as a roughly $3 million dollar cut in revenue sharing money.
He said this year's budget was written without the SaskEnergy money included, but wasn't sure what the increased money would be used for. He said a decision would be made in the next several months.