Saskatoon looks to spread the cost of BRT and other big-ticket infrastructure items

The city has touted 28 projects whose costs could be split between the three levels of government.

City touts 28 projects whose costs could be split between 3 levels of government

Saskatoon's bus-rapid-transit system is estimated to cost $151 million. Under a funding agreement yet to be hammered out, the city would only pay about $40 million of that cost. (City of Saskatoon )

Some of Saskatoon's future big-ticket projects — not including a new arena and downtown library — could get funding help from the federal and provincial governments.

That's according to a new report from city hall.

The idea isn't new. Federal money has long been touted as a possibility for the proposed $151-million bus-rapid-transit (BRT) system.

But the city has now laid out a broader list of infrastructure projects that could be paid for three ways through a federally led infrastructure funding program.

Besides the BRT lines, the city touts these eligible projects, listed here in order of price tag:

  • $60 million for new buses.
  • $54 million for a flood-control strategy involving the installation of stormwater pipes, dry ponds and underground storage.
  • $45 million for a new indoor leisure centre.
  • $30 million for upgrades to the city's water treatment plant.
  • $22 million for upgrades and additions to the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.

In total, the city lists 28 projects estimated to cost a combined $593 million. A new downtown arena — the subject of much debate of late — is not among them. According to the city, the federal government will not fund a commercial enterprise. Nor is a downtown library included "because estimated costs, timeliness etc. are unknown at the time of writing this report."

A spokesperson for the Saskatoon Public Library says it's still working on the business case for a new downtown branch and a date hasn't been set for an update to city council. 

The infrastructure funding program would see the federal and provincial governments give 40 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively, for each project, with the city providing the rest.

The city is asking city councillors to preliminary endorse the list of 28 projects Monday at city hall. Final approval would come at a future city council meeting.

Assuming all 28 projects are approved by council and the federal government, the city would pay $158 million for those projects.

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Guy Quenneville

Reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatoon

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