POLITICS

Saskatchewan mayors looking to ensure 'growth' more than a buzzword

12/05/2012 04:09 EST | Updated 02/04/2013 05:12 EST
REGINA - The mayors of Saskatchewan's cities want the province to ensure that there will be enough money for infrastructure growth.

The mayors are at a two-day meeting in Regina and are focusing on revenue sharing promised by Premier Brad Wall.

The premier has promised to deliver one percentage point of the provincial sales tax to local governments for roads, water and sewers.

The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association is working on a new allocation model to give cities what it calls a fairer chunk of that pie.

Malcolm Eaton, newly elected caucus chair and mayor of Humboldt, says the province will fall further and further into an infrastructure deficit without more spending.

Eaton says his counterparts are looking for long-term, sustainable funding for infrastructure.

"There is a significant deficit in infrastructure across this country. It’s a growing deficit and we have needs in our communities to renovate, to rehabilitate old infrastructure, much of which is nearing the end of its useful life," Eaton said Wednesday.

He is hopeful an arrangement can be worked out with the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and other parties early in the new year so that funding changes can be included in the next provincial budget.

"Cabinet is encouraging us to move forward with this file, to come to an agreement with our other partners. That's what we're working on and ... we'll continue to work with the other partners to arrive at a solution."

Eaton also identified simple red tape as another concern. He said growth happens most directly at the city level these days, but he's worried that private developments or infrastructure upgrades are being slowed down by provincial policies and bureaucracy.

The two-day meeting is giving mayors elected in October's civic vote a chance to get to know each other. They also met with deputy premier Ken Krawetz and 16 other cabinet ministers Tuesday night.

(CJME)