POLITICS
06/25/2014 12:43 EDT | Updated 08/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Saskatchewan communities get more money to help with infrastructure projects

REGINA - Municipalities across Saskatchewan are getting more money from gas taxes to pump into infrastructure and they'll be able to use the cash in more ways.

The province has signed a new 10-year gas tax agreement with the federal government that will see communities share $56.3 million for infrastructure this year. The total amount over the first five years is nearly $293 million.

"It certainly isn't going to be a panacea to all our problems, but it's key," Jim Reiter, the province's government relations minister, said Wednesday.

"Municipalities rely on this. They're facing infrastructure demands ... as our province grows, we're having more and more demands on infrastructure, particularly municipal infrastructure, so it'll certainly be helpful."

Gas tax money used to be only for infrastructure projects such as roads, water or sewage plants. Now municipalities can also use the money for disaster mitigation, to increase Internet access or for airports.

Weyburn Mayor Deb Button, who is president of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, says communities have a lot of projects that need to be done.

"The list of needs is actually endless," said Button.

"Right now, the city of Weyburn is tasked with a new water reservoir and we're struggling to come up with the money for that. We need that reservoir to keep our communities growing and we've been told that unless that happens fairly quickly, we won't be able to grow our subdivisions and expand the city."

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