Feds approve several infrastructure projects amid dispute with Sask. government

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Francois Philippe Champagne arrives to speak to media at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre during day two of the Liberal cabinet retreat in Nanaimo, B.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Chad Hipolito / The Canadian Press

Projects at the center of an infrastructure dispute between the Saskatchewan and federal governments have been approved, for the most part.

Federal Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted out a letter, addressed to SaskBuilds, notifying the agency of the approvals on Monday afternoon.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan gov’t says funding issues with Ottawa puts projects in jeopardy

In the letter, Champagne said 13 of 25 projects submitted through the Integrated Bilateral Agreement (IBA) have been approved. This is a 10-year agreement worth $900 million, which is designed to help bankroll municipal infrastructure projects that are shovel ready.

The minister added approvals for the remaining projects are expected shortly. The combined value of all 25 projects is around $200 million.

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One project has been deemed ineligible is a “sport and tourism development complex” in Prince Albert that would be home to the WHL’s Raiders franchise.

“The one exception is the business case pertaining to a new arena for a semi-pro sporting franchise, which as you know, is explicitly defined as ineligible under our the IBA,” Champagne wrote.

“Portions of the project, however, may become eligible for federal funding if an appropriate revised application is submitted.”

“While we appreciate the partial approval (13 of 25 projects) of the list of priority projects the province submitted, we are disappointed by the rejection by the federal government of the Prince Albert Community Multiplex,” SaskBuilds Minister Gordon Wyant said in a statement.

“There are also still a number of outstanding projects outside of the Community Culture and Recreation (CCR) fund that need immediate attention including critical green and water infrastructure projects throughout Saskatchewan.”

READ MORE: Ottawa says no formal request made by Sask. over infrastructure dollars

IBA funding is split into multiple criteria, including CCR, green infrastructure and transit.

Saskatchewan recently requested the ability to move transit funding into CCR projects, saying improvements to Regina’s Globe Theatre plus Saskatoon’s Gordie Howe Bowl and Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan site would eat up the funding envelope.

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Champagne’s letter says these projects have been approved, alongside the Thunderbird Wellness Centre and Southend Community Ice Rink.

“We are disappointed that the federal government did not approve the transfer of the transit funds to the CCR stream as requested by the cities of Regina and Saskatoon,” Wyant said.

Another sticking point in this dispute has been funding for the replacement of two Regina pools, Wascana and Maple Leaf.

According to Champagne, there is enough funding to cover the pools and encouraged Saskatchewan to include those applications. He added they would be reviewed promptly.

READ MORE: Regina mayor disappointed Saskatchewan choosing not to fund new swimming pools

“With regard to the two Regina swimming pools and any other applications, we will be able to consider future projects when the federal government agrees to replenish the funding in the CCR stream from the transit fund for the three Regina and Saskatoon projects approved today (Gordie Howe Bowl, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan and Globe Theatre),” Wyant said.

Wyant previously said he believes the funding consideration for the pools would be up for consideration in the future, and Ottawa’s push to include the pools is political.

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