New gymnasium part of a wave of funding

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Prince Albert Carlton MLA Darryl Hickie is seen during Thursday’s grand opening celebration for Carlton Comprehensive Public High School’s new gymnasium, which saw about $8 million in provincial money go toward its $12.2 million budget. 

Prince Albert’s “done well” in receiving provincial funding for infrastructure in recent years, Prince Albert Carlton MLA Darryl Hickie concluded on Friday.

 

Contacted by phone a day after an exciting grand opening celebration for Carlton Comprehensive Public High School’s new gymnasium, Hickie was still audibly enthused for the project and event.

“We have a new facility that will be able to attract provincial-level tournaments, which will, of course, bring economic development and increase the economy of the city through hotel rooms and goods and services being bought here in the city,” he said.

Getting $8 million to partially fund the gymnasium took years to squeeze out of the provincial government, Saskatchewan Rivers School Board chairperson Barry Hollick noted during Thursday’s grand opening ceremony.

During this time, he credits local area MLAs with convincing provincial ministers to prioritize the local project over others within what government officials have referred to as being a balanced budget approach.  

This begs the question; What’s the next big project local area MLAs are advocating for?

“There aren’t any big projects in the works right now,” Hickie said. “There’s nothing right now currently that I’m aware of that we’ll be looking at funding.”

That said, Hickie noted that there are several existing financial commitments the government is in the midst of making, including contributions to the Pineview Terrace Lodge and the city’s water treatment plant, as well as the annual revenue sharing dollars given to municipal governments.

“We’ve done well in Prince Albert by having those projects funded,” he said. “I mean, we’re seeing the jail expansion being funded as well, right now … and we can’t forget that we had funding for the (Diefenbaker) bridge repairs a couple years ago, so we’ve done well in Prince Albert.”

The twinning of Highway 11 to Prince Albert is another recent milestone of significance, Hickie added.

When it comes to school board-level infrastructure projects in the Prince Albert area, Hickie noted that none of the local area school boards have any significant requests before the provincial government at the moment.

There’s nothing right now currently that I’m aware of that we’ll be looking at funding. Darryl Hickie

An indirect ongoing contribution has been the government’s role in getting the Prince Albert Pulp Mill up and running -- albeit only partially -- by allowing them to sell energy to the provincial grid.

“We’re always open for those opportunities,” Hickie explained.

On the topic of opportunities, Hickie referenced a handful of school builds in the province that are being funded through public-private partnerships (P3 agreements).

“Those are the things we’re always looking at -- new innovative ways to meet the demands and needs across Saskatchewan, as we see parts of our province growing,” he said.

“The province has done pretty well as a whole, considering we still have a very good outlook for the province, economically, and a balanced budget, unlike quite a few places in the world right now.”

When it comes to funding infrastructure projects in the Prince Albert area, Hickie said that the provincial government is “always willing to discuss what stakeholders need,” and that the Carlton gymnasium “isn’t just a one time deal.”

Hickie’s No. 1 takeaway from Thursday’s grand opening celebration wasn’t the gymnasium opening itself, but the personal impact that Grade 12 student Adam Pickering said the gymnasium has made on his life.

Pickering is currently strengthening his muscles so that he’ll be able to walk again – a process he’s made great strides in since receiving back surgery in 2010.

On Thursday, he walked across the gymnasium to a podium where he spoke.

“That was a very proud moment for me, as an MLA and a father -- a parent -- to give this opportunity to this young man to have an opportunity to … to better his physical well-being,” Hickie said.

“That’s why we serve in public office -- to make an opportunity like that available to a young man like him, and others like him.”

Organizations: Carlton Comprehensive Public High School, Saskatchewan Rivers School Board

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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