An economic powerhouse in the Saskatoon region is about to get a whole lot bigger and the method it’s taking to get there is believed to be only the second of its kind in Canada.
On Friday, government officials and First Nations leaders announced that Whitecap Dakota First Nation would be expanding its water and wastewater infrastructure.
By beefing up the First Nation’s water treatment plant for commercial use, it will allow Whitecap to launch the next phase of its economic growth plan.
That includes a 160-room hotel, more residential development along its golf course and a 40-acre business park, according to Chief Darcy Bear, who added that it’s all made possible through a joint investment.
“This is the first of its kind in Saskatchewan where a First Nation has been allowed to make an application to the Building Canada Fund and everybody’s putting up their one-third.”
Without funding from the province and Canadian government, the nation would have been responsible for forking over $10.8 million to achieve the expansion – something simply not feasible for the First Nation.
“It’s good for Saskatchewan, it’s good for Canada and this is a prime example of what our new approach to infrastructure is intended to accomplish,” said Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
Once the expansion is complete, the water treatment plant’s footprint will be three times what it is today and capacity will increase an estimated eight to 10 times.
Work that is expected to take a little over a year-and-a-half to both tender and complete.
“When you invest in projects of this kind, you have a multiplier-affect of about 1.5 that’s the largest, most cost effective way for the Government of Canada to have an impact on economic growth and jobs,” Goodale said.
Bear agreed, not only does the expansion make sense for the First Nation but also by the region surrounding it.
“We’ve got 680 jobs here now, 500 people are commuting from Saskatoon on a daily basis so we all win,” Bear said.
“Even the City of Saskatoon wins because when rural Saskatchewan is doing well, the cities do well because who do we all buy our goods and services from – large urban centres so everybody wins in this announcement today.”