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Less money but more infrastructure for the city

By Samanda Brace 

 

Photo By Samanda Brace.Bob Hawkins, city councillor of Ward 2 and acting deputy mayor, is pleased with the money allocated to the city for its infrastruture needs in the 2014 provincial budget.

 

 

The City of Regina may need to hold tight as the province delivers a tight budget. This is the first year the City of Regina has received cuts in revenue sharing in the last seven years. The city was allocated $40 million, a deduction of about 2.75 per cent from last year.

 

“It is a very very tight budget and so I think it’s a signal to the city of Regina that they need to manage within the resources that they currently have,” said Tina Beaudry-Mellor, political studies instructor at the University of Regina.

 

The queen city has already raised property taxes by 5.9 per cent this year as well as an eight per cent increase in utility rates.

 

“The reduction of the municipal revenues sharing at municipalities at a time where they are growing and have such significant needs will fall heavily on the backs of property taxpayers, families and businesses all across Saskatchewan, said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP critic for municipal relations and urban affairs.

 

Urban municipalities across the province saw a $4.8 million decrease in funding from the provincial government.

 

“We have growing communities with lots of needs and the government should not be cutting funding but should enable the investments that are required,” said Wotherspoon.

 

Jim Reiter, minister of government relations said that the reduction was no surprise to municipalities. “They ha   ve been well aware of that for some time. It’s because some accounting changes affected the PST and we have tied municipal revenue sharing to a point on the PST. So certainly it will be a temporary blip,” said Reiter.

 

The budget was not all bad news. There will be $405.2 million devoted to transportation infrastructure. This includes the Regina Bypass P3 project.

 

“There is money to build the circle road around Regina, that is important to get heavy traffic off our streets. That’s very good news for us, good for growth of the city,” said Bob Hawkins, city councillor of Ward 2 and acting deputy mayor.

 

The City of Regina was also pleased to receive $50 million from the provincial government committed to the Regina stadium project.

 

“Stadium project is a go, the money’s there and the land is clear and this will be a great infrastructure project for the city,” said Hawkins with a smile on his face.

 

More money for infrastructure will also be allotted to the city through the Building Canada Fund, a federal initiative. However, the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) is concerned about the lack of details surrounding the fund.

 

“There is endless opportunity to spend infrastructure money, it could be upgrading or new infrastructure that we need so desperately across the province to grow the province and accommodate the growth were all feeling,” said Debra Button, SUMA president.

 

She added that the provincial government has reassured SUMA that once the plan is released, there will be provincial money available.

 

As the province is growing and the budget remains tight, the City of Regina and SUMA along with the provincial government, will continue to push the federal government to finance the Building Canada Fund.