Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says there will not be enough money to fund all the infrastructure projects that municipalities want.
Mayors and councillors told the Premier and cabinet ministers at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association convention on Wednesday that infrastructure demands are high and costly.
Wall said the province is waiting to see what might come from the federal government’s Building Canada Fund and will match any of that money.
“There will likely be projects for which municipalities have earnestly pointed out the need, that we simply won’t have enough. We won’t have that vast amount of dollars that are needed to deal with all of them,” the premier said.
“There’ll be some projects, I’m sure, that we wouldn’t be able to fund. Without knowing specifics, I think that should be taken as a given.”
The Premier said infrastructure is a priority, but the government also has to balance the budget. It’s scheduled to be tabled March 19.
A growth plan unveiled by the government in 2012 should, in the meantime, give communities a good idea on what projects should come first, such as sewer and water, Wall said.
Association president and Weyburn Mayor Debra Button is concerned about what projects might not go ahead.
“Municipalities across this province have been dealing with the infrastructure deficit for a lot of years and we’ve been prioritizing and we’re getting to a crunch with a lot of our projects,” she said.
“We’ve been putting Band-Aids on a lot of things and I know that the Premier and his ministries all know this. However, with the growth challenges that we’re now facing, there’s a number of communities out there that are at capacity.”
Button said her city of Weyburn was told that it needed a new water reservoir before it could build a new subdivision. The reservoir will probably cost around $11-million.
Weyburn is feeling a housing crunch as oil and gas develops in the area and draws workers. Button said there’s no guarantee the city will get money from the Building Canada Fund.
“So what are communities like Weyburn supposed to do if there is no help from the other orders of government? That’s a huge tax increase for us.”