Northern Development Projects Get Mixed Reviews

Monday, April 24, 2006 at 14:39



The provincial and federal governments have announced three northern communities will receive a combined total of roughly $500,000 in project investments.


A training program for drill operators in Buffalo Narrows, an industrial career centre in Air Ronge, and a feasibility study related to possible tree bark uses near Creighton make up the list of recipients.


Northern Affairs Minister Joan Beatty says the three projects were chosen using criteria from the Canada-Saskatchewan Northern Development Agreement.


Beatty says the training opportunities are especially valuable to the North, which is thirsty for jobs.


Northern Development Board chairman Al Rivard says a lot of good things could come out of the projects.


He notes the Creighton Regional Development corporation could benefit if the feasibility study of its local jackpine, white birch and trembling aspen tree stands comes to fruition.


The corporation is set to hire a bio-technology company to study the possible uses of the tree’s sap and bark.


Rivard says there is a lot of interest in the possible health benefits those things could provide.


If the study is successful, a commercial harvesting operation might be started — which could provide 30 jobs in the area.


However, another northern leader says he isn’t impressed with last week’s funding announcement by the two levels of government.


Metis Nation of Saskatchewan area director Philip Chartier says the $500,000 commitment is well below what’s needed for the area.


Chartier says the province and Ottawa could do more to improve training and job opportunities in the North.


He says the $4 million the two governments provide each year under this agreement “is not even a drop in the bucket” in terms of what northern Saskatchewan needs to get on par with the rest of Canada when it comes to employment levels.


Chartier says he wants to see more training opportunities for northerners materialize before the road link to Fort McMurray opens up.