City Council decided on Monday to withdraw the Highway 17 North-South Corridor project from consideration for the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component Grant (PTIC).
Government Relations in Saskatchewan asked the City of Lloydminster for a letter identifying their top priority, but they had two options:
- Make the Wastewater Treatment Plant the top priority, and withdraw the Highway 17 project completely
- Identify the Wastewater Treatment Plant as the top priority, but list the Highway 17 project as the second priority.
The Wastewater Treatment Plant Project is expected to cost $80 million, while the Highway North-South Corridor is estimated at $29 million.
“The Government of Saskatchewan has two applications, and they simply need some direction to be sure because as we said if there was money leftover they may say, oh we’ll take the cheaper project, which I can understand that, certainly, but the problem is we don’t have the money,” said Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
Mayor Aalbers identified one of the issues that has arose is that the Government of Alberta and and Government of Saskatchewan see different projects worth funding, the Alberta Government with the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Saskatchewan Government having the two options.
“When you have the difference of the government, it gets very difficult in our position, being in the middle, so in my discussions and after being elected with the new council we had a discussion and we determined that the Wastewater Treatment Plant is our number one priority,” adds Mayor Aalbers.
During council there was some debate as to why the Highway 17 Corridor could not be left as the number two priority, mainly coming from Councillor Ken Baker.
“There’s no question that the Wastewater Treatment Plant is the big number one issue, I’ve said it for a number of years, and that’s what it is and we’ve worked on it but the Highway has also been on the docket for years and years. I always talk about priorities. That doesn’t mean it can’t be number two,” said Councillor Baker.
Councillor Jonathan Torresan added that this is what makes financial sense.
“When I was looking at some of the numbers and different considerations, we have $39 million in debt at the end of this year, we have a $120 million debt limit and we’re looking at possibly having to build a facility on our own that costs $80 million, so even if we did get funding approval for the North-South Corridor and did not get the Wastewater Treatment Plant we would still be unable to do the North-South Corridor because we wouldn’t have the debt capacity to build it,” said Councillor Torresan.
Councillor Baker also added that he heard the politics behind withdrawing the Highway 17 project but says “I don’t want to see the Highway 17 upgrades go away, but we do know what is number one on the list.”
The deadline set by the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency to have a new Wastewater Treatment Plant in place is July, 2017.