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The economics of a second bridge to the province’s north PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 17:41

Speakers at the Building Bridges for Success conference

The case for a second bridge was a big topic at a Prince Albert infrastructure conference on Wednesday.

One speaker unveiled the economics of Prince Albert's Diefenbaker Bridge.

Each time the full bridge is down, there's a $1.8 million economic hit, and a lane closure alone has an economic impact of $100,000.

Speaker and economist Gordon Sparks told the crowd of regional, municipal, and provincial leaders how he came to those numbers. This included looking at how far people need to go out of the way on alternate routes and the cost of that trip for freight and normal traffic.

It also meant looking at how much traffic crosses the Diefenbaker Bridge on a regular basis.

“We see that this bridge, for example, is one infrastructure need. It’s handling traffic for the whole, entire north-central region of the province. And it’s a long way on either side of Prince Albert to take that crossing happen. So in turn that costs a lot of money,” said P.A. Chamber CEO Larry Fladager.

He says this is felt in the north.

“Seventy-five per cent of the traffic, for example, on this bridge is not traffic in Prince Albert,” Fladager said. “Likely that’s where a lot of that traffic is going to, it’s going to the mines, the communities in the north, it’s going to the lumber operations, etc.”

The conclusion Sparks came to is that we need to look at how best to take care of current infrastructure. In the case of the Diefenbaker Bridge, there are many challenges: it has already been through a fracture that restricted bridge access, and only has a 20-year lifespan left.

Sparks added that, as a consultant, the biggest factor in moving forward with a project is when those involved put emotional decisions to the backburner, and focus on facts to come to a collective decision.

Politicians and industry filled the room; something that the Chamber had been aiming for, Fladager said.

“You’ll see the mayors, you’ll see councillors, you see reeves, you see MLAs. The reason we wanted to bring them together is so we can get the collective voice and we can really take the next step for planning for the future,” he said.

He says those steps aren't always quick – something that was discussed by keynote speaker, Murray Totland with the City of Saskatoon. He’d pointed out that big infrastructure projects like hospitals and bridges can take about eight years of behind-the scenes work.

Montreal Lake breaking ground on new health centre PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 13:47

The ribbon-cutting for the first health centre.

Pictured: The ribbon-cutting for the first William Charles Health Centre. Photo courtesy sicc.sk.ca

As Montreal Lake breaks ground on a brand new health centre, its band members want to set a trend for on-reserve healthcare.

The Wednesday afternoon groundbreaking for the William Charles Health Centre location is a celebration of years of effort to break the mold for the Cree nation’s band manager Mark D’Amato.

Montreal Lake’s current health centre of the same name has been operating for 26 years, D’Amato said, and the First Nation had an agreement with Health Canada to receive funding for a renovation after 25 years in operation.

But D’Amato and others wanted to build new rather than renovate. Issues like mould and aging have taken a toll on the current facility, and new trends in healthcare have made the setup of the current health centre too far behind the times, D’Amato said. The health issues from mould left only one option in his mind.

Montreal Lake made this possible by lobbying, negotiating, and putting its own money into the project.

D’Amato says by building new, they want to send a message.

“We’re hoping that it’ll set the trend for the future, send the message to Health Canada that their policies of just doing renovations is not always the best solution to the problem. You know, sometimes you need to sit and rethink the problem to solve it,” he said.

D’Amato has a grander vision for all First Nations, in which healthcare facilities are up to the same standards as those off reserve.

“Our people should be treated no different and people coming in from the outside, just because it’s a reserve, shouldn’t have any kind of stigma or anything attached to it,” he said.

The groundbreaking started at 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon with officials and Chief Henderson present.

Band councillor Jarret Nelson is responsible for the health portfolio. He says the day means a lot because his late grandmother was in the health field. She was a nurse.

“She was there at the ground-breaking of this facility in 1989. So now for me to come in and basically take in her footsteps and bring a new facility once again to this community is once again, a huge achievement for our Cree Nation,” he said.

The new William Charles Health Centre is set for completion in late 2016.

The band is contributing $4 million, and Health Canada is covering the rest of the $7.5 million dollar facility.

It’s set for completion in December, 2016.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 October 2015 13:53
Harper greeted with protests in Saskatoon PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mervin Brass   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 13:25

About 100 people spent the evening protesting Stephen Harper during the Conservative leader's Saskatoon campaign stop.

About 100 people turned out Tuesday night to shout down Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a campaign stop in Saskatoon.

The crowd chanted, “Stephen has to go! Hey, hey!” throughout the evening.

Plainclothes RCMP officers stood between the protestors and the warehouse entrance.

A handful of uniformed Saskatoon City policeman joined the Mounties as they kept the crowd from getting close to where Harper was speaking inside a warehouse.

A Harper supporter who identified herself as Sigrid wasn’t happy with the uninvited crowd.

“And I just find it just really irritating that people keep coming out to comment and to protest,” said Sigrid. “And it’s always ‘stop Harper,’ ‘stop fracking,’ and you know fracking is going to save us.”

University of Saskatchewan instructor Priscilla Settee is on the other side of the spectrum.

“Well people are really very sick and tired of the oppressive government of Stephen Harper,” she said. “Well we’ve seen what Canada has stood for just slowly, or not even that slowly, rapidly just disintegrating where all types of social support networks have just been eliminated.”

At one point Harper’s campaign workers set up speakers at the gate’s entrance playing loud music in an attempt to drown out the chanting.

Betty Pewapisconias says a lot of her friends and fellow students at the University of Saskatchewan plan to vote.

“I really, really encourage people to vote and vote Harper out,” she said. “People of colour have been treated as if they don’t matter. It’s a really big step for First Nations people to vote and I think we’re ready to take that step.”

Harper will be in Saskatoon Wednesday to continue campaigning.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 October 2015 13:28
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