Hundreds of thousands of dollars pledged for communities through federal and provincial governments flooded into local treasuries over the past several months, at a time when COVID-19 restrictions dried up other sources of revenue.
Large and small, each of the projects funded through the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program bring benefits.
For the Town of Balgonie, this includes more than $52,000 for the future purchase of a pumper truck for the Balgonie Volunteer Fire Department. With already $256,065 now in reserves, roughly half the cost of a truck purchase is now sitting in a reserve fund.
“This particular truck (made in 1988) that we have is likely to need ongoing repairs and when you have a truck that is showing it is aging, we have to make a plan to replace it,” Balgonie Town Administrator Karen Craigie said.
There could be even more money flowing to community projects soon once delays with the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) delays at the federal level are cleared up.
The ICIP is a jointly funded strategy of the federal and provincial government. In Saskatchewan, this means $898 million for infrastructure projects over 10 years for municipalities, First Nations and Metis communities, utility boards, non-profit groups, and for-profit groups working with First Nations communities and municipalities. As both the federal and provincial governments must approve the project before it gets funded, projects already approved at the provincial level were left awaiting approval by the federal government ahead of a potential fall of the current minority government.
Premier Scott Moe expressed his concern about funding delays caused by a potential federal election in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with the province having already recommended 123 projects for federal assent. Those projects would qualify for $590 million from the ICIP.
Moe’s frustration for the delays came as Saskatchewan’s construction season nears its winter months.
“It is greatly concerning that these projects, representing real jobs and real investment in communities, have sat on a desk for months waiting for approval,” Moe wrote to Trudeau on Sept. 14.
One of the projects awaiting funding is a new water pipeline for the Village of Edenwold. This would mean a water pipeline would be built from Balgonie to the village, effectively creating a regional water supply system. The water Edenwold would eventually receive would come from Pilot Butte, via Balgonie. Edenwold mayor Dean Josephson confirmed the project had received provincial approval but funding had not yet been secured.
“Funding is not in place yet but it has cleared a hurdle,” Josephson said. “So, the process is further along than we’ve ever got before. It’s the third time we’ve applied.”
If approved federally, the village will receive $1.772 million in combined federal and provincial funding toward the total cost of the $2.416 million project.
Josephson said without that water line, the village, “cannot grow.”
“We are at capacity now,” Josephson said. “We do not have sufficient water to provide for more homes, and the water we do have is becoming harder and harder to treat because its surface runoff water. With the agricultural chemicals used, it’s getting very hard to treat. The wells in the near area have higher concentrations of arsenic in them. That’s what SaskWater has told us.”
Edenwold has 250 residents in the village now, but could double in 15 years with a water supply, Josephson said.
Other ICIP projects awaiting federal approval include the construction of an outdoor skating rink in Kronau and an upgrade to the Odessa Community Hall.
Again pending federal approval, Kronau will receive $103,115 toward the construction of a $140,617 outdoor rink, and Odessa would receive $461,392 toward the $629,200 estimated cost of its new hall.
Municipalities had to apply for the funding in order for their projects to be considered.
In June, July and August, 1,359 projects were approved across the province under the MEEP program, totalling $150 million. The money can fund either the full cost or portions of specified projects applied for by municipalities, and must be spent by March 31, 2022.
WHAT DID MEEP FUND HERE?
RM of Chester
• $55,048 for correction line road reconstruction
RM of Edenwold
• $50,000 for gravel crushing
• $225,000 for fire hall
• $150,000 for street or parking lot paving
• $10,000 for compost bins
• $5,341 for pedestrian crossing signage
• $30,000 for bridge repairs
• $85,000 for a new backup water well
• $40,000 for water well upgrades
• $50,000 for strategic plan development
• $107,796 for road construction
RM of Fillmore
• $22,051 for clay cap of a road
• $10,000 for a gravel trailer
RM of Lajord
• $33,303 for Lewis Road upgrade
• $143,770 for Kronau grid upgrade
RM of Montmartre
• $69,421 for a motor grader
RM of Scott
• $28,027 for Farr Bridge upgrade
Town of Pilot Butte
• $12,148 for utility vehicle
• $30,000 for fire hall expansion
• $100,000 for a spray park accessible change room and washroom
• $140,000 for crosswalk and park upgrades
• $25,000 for a sound barrier at hall
Town of White City
• $211,914 for Phase 2 of Betteridge Road
• 90,000 for play structure
• $43,000 for community centre backup generator
• $5,000 for firefighter turnouts
• $20,000 for urban forest management strategy
• $25,500 for street light replacement
• $20,000 for community energy option feasibility study
• $30,000 for furnishing EMO Command Unit
Village of Montmartre
• $70,427 for sidewalks
Village of Vibank
• $55,335 for public works flat deck truck
RM of Francis
• $96,873 for new shop and office building
Town of Balgonie
• $111,356 for new backhoe
• $75,260 for wide area mower
• $15,000 for bulk water filling station
• $52,065 for fire pumper truck replacement
Town of Francis
• $31,189 for fire hall upgrade
Village of Edenwold
• $33,489 for roof at community rink
Village of Glenavon
• $2,159 for water treatment plant upgrade
• $24,000 for pre-design of a water system upgrade
Village of Odessa
• $29,464 for Main Street rebuild
Village of Osage
• $2,875 for tractor
Village of Sedley
• $5,910 for service road upgrade
• $3,800 for sidewalks
• $17,768 for fire hydrant replacement
• $23,970 for landfill preliminary closure plan
RM of Wellington
• $53,323 for new RM shop