September 20, 2017 3:35 pm

Meewasin funding troubles lead to closures at Beaver Creek Conservation Area

Meewasin interim CEO Doug Porteous says the partial closure of the Beaver Creek Conservation Area could be the beginning of many changes for the authority.

Tyler Schroeder / Global News

One of the Meewasin Valley Authority‘s (MVA) most popular destinations is scheduled to permanently close two days per week due to budget cuts.

The Beaver Creek Conservation Area will be closed on weekends and holidays starting Oct. 1.

READ MORE: Meewasin Valley Authority parting ways with CEO

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“Our operations manager said to me, ‘Doug you can’t do this anymore. The money’s not there,’” said Meewasin interim CEO Doug Porteous.

A $409,000 cut by the provincial government in April combined with a $34,000 reduction by the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) led to Meewasin tabling its most difficult budget in its 38 year history.

Meewasin planned to close its Fred Heal, Poplar Bluffs and Paradise Beach canoe launches to cover part of the funding shortfall, but reversed the decision in May.

The Saskatchewan government also amended the Meewasin Valley Authority Act to remove statutory funding requirement for the province and U of S.

The only funding the MVA is guaranteed is $557,000 from the City of Saskatoon.

“Unless we have that long-term, predictable, sustainable funding, Meewasin as we know it … could cease to exist,” Porteous said.

READ MORE: Group plans to cleanup Fred Heal canoe launch and others

The partial closure at Beaver Creek is expected to save the MVA about $2,500 per month, but could one day become a permanent closure, according to Porteous.

The authority welcomes more than one hundred school groups every year, with each paying up to $300 per visit, requiring the MVA to cut weekends instead of weekdays, Porteous said.

Meewasin is a non-profit conservation organization designed to care for the land along the South Saskatchewan River in the Saskatoon area.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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