Meewasin Valley Authority concerned after premier's comments about cuts

The CEO of a Saskatoon conservation group is worried about this year's provincial budget.

5 urban parks lost provincial funding in 2016 budget

The Meewasin Valley Authority trails along Spadina Crescent E. 'There's a significant amount of concern' around provincial funding for Meewasin, said authority CEO Lloyd Isaak. (CBC News)

The CEO of a Saskatoon conservation group is worried about this year's provincial budget.

Last year, provincial funding was cut for five of Saskatchewan's urban parks in Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Prince Albert, the Battlefords and Weyburn, saving the province $540,000. 

Meanwhile, Saskatoon's Meewasin Valley Authority was given a year to review and discuss future plans, with no guarantees of future funding.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Premier Brad Wall said all options are on the table to balance a $1.2-billion deficit.

"We've heard loud and clear from our Saskatoon MLAs about the importance that people place on the park," he said. "Now, it's true in my hometown, there was urban park funding for the Chinook Parkway that's been eliminated, North Battleford [urban park funding] has been eliminated … I think we need to be even-handed with all the cities and municipalities."

That worries Meewasin, a conservation group responsible for conserving the South Saskatchewan River valley, including Saskatoon's riverside parks.

"Certainly there's a significant amount of concern," said authority CEO Lloyd Isaak. "We know that the province is considering reductions or cuts for sure."

It's still not known what the nature of those cuts will be. The provincial government has started a review of Meewasin, but it's still not clear when that will be released.

"I'm not sure what the status of that study is," Isaak said. "I've made inquiries to the deputy minister for parks, culture and sport, and I know some information has been provided to the ministry. We haven't been apprised of what the study results are, or the consequence or impacts to Meewasin just yet."

Wall said no final decisions have been made yet.

The Saskatchewan government covers about 20 per cent of Meewasin's budget with $909,000 a year.