A day after Premier Brad Wall touted infrastructure as a priority during a visit to Prince Albert, the NDP’s municipal affairs critic said that greater commitments are needed.
“Common sense would say, ‘let’s go ahead with that second bridge, let’s get more beds in Victoria Hospital,’” David Forbes said.
During last year’s provincial election, the Saskatchewan NDP promised a second North Saskatchewan crossing at or near Prince Albert — a promise yet to be made by the Saskatchewan Party.
“The north is so important to the economy of our province,” Forbes said, citing the recent lane closures and weight restrictions, which affected the entirety of the province.
“The message that we’re hearing from the premier is very vague and non-committal.
“We think that there needs to be a clear message to the people of Prince Albert and northern Saskatchewan that they will participate in this, that there will be a second bridge, and that they will be funding this and move quickly on this.”
The NDP, along with the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, urged the Saskatchewan Party to place infrastructure as a priority in their 2012 budget.
This, Forbes alleges, did not happen.
“In the budget there was no money set aside in the municipal area for increased costs for infrastructure, and that was something that SUMA has asked for.”
In Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Herald, Wall addresses the government’s $80-million investment in the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ new stadium.
“If governments waited to invest in those projects until every road was built, every bridge was done, we’d just never do them,” Wall said.
“I was really disappointed with the premier’s remarks,” Forbes said.
“I think what we need to have, as we call in government, a plan, so the people of P.A. can have a sense of something’s happening for them, too. I don’t think it’s a case of either or. I think it’s a case of setting priorities and choices.”
Common sense would say, ‘let’s go ahead with that second bridge, let’s get more beds in Victoria Hospital.' - Saskatchewan NDP's municipal affairs critic David Forbes
The Saskatchewan Party doesn’t seem to a have a clearly defined list of priorities, Forbes said.
“I’m surprised and very frustrated with this government that they don’t have that list and people don’t know what the projects and priorities are for this government.”
When it comes to the Saskatchewan Party’s non-committal stances on building a second bridge, expanding the Victoria Hospital and other issues, Forbes said things are not being moved on quickly enough.
“We think we should be looking at moving that up, because clearly this government … like(s) to talk about plans and feasibility studies, but we actually need to see more results.
“This government’s now in its fifth year, going into its sixth year of mandate and we’re concerned.”
Highway twinning to Prince Albert
One issue within Wall’s speaking points that Forbes contests is his claim of Saskatchewan Party ownership over the Highway 11 twinning project from Saskatoon to Prince Albert.
The NDP started work on the twinning project in 2005, though the Saskatchewan Party, in partnership with the federal government, accelerated the project, moving its completion date from 2016 to 2012.
“We hear a lot of that stuff,” Forbes said of the Saskatchewan Party’s claim of responsibility.
“It’s a huge thing and we’re happy to see it happening. There’s the safety issue and the time issue so that’s very important.”