The bridge debate in Prince Albert took an interesting turn on Monday.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall was in the city and the door finally opened on the concept of a second bridge. But if you think he’s going to build it alone, you would be wrong.
Wall sent a letter to Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne suggesting that the city pursue a public-private partnership (P3) that would see the costs shared.
It’s a format that has been used successfully of late by the city of Saskatoon, which recently announced the construction of another bridge using that formula.
Wall was unequivocal in saying the province would kick in their share if the city chooses the P3 model. Otherwise, the province isn’t going to build one.
“Our provincial government is committed to funding our share of a second bridge for the City of Prince Albert,” Wall said. “There’s no set ratios in the program, so I think that’s something we could work together and explore what the right ratio is for all three partners … and maybe there’s a role for the private sector to join in, as well.”
Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne wasn’t tipping his hand.
“There’s no saying we’ll go down that road,” he said on Monday.
It’s going to be an interesting discussion at council as the city’s representatives have to puzzle out if they want a second bridge badly enough to raise their neighbours’ taxes.
Council is now put in a position where they are going to have do this city’s planning for the next decade or two as they face a number of competing and important interests.
After all, what’s the priority, a new bridge or a new hospital?
They could very well both be P3 expenses that jack up taxes. Do you build them both and start to pay for them now?
Do you build one and save the other, knowing that when you get back to it the costs will have risen?
We remain concerned -- skeptical might be too strong a word -- about the P3 model. We’ll know in a few decades if it was the right way to go but right now we’re fumbling for the light switch in the dark.
The province has made its position known. It’s a P3 or no bridge.
The ball is firmly and unmistakably in the city’s court.
• • •
We wanted to take a moment to salute the life and work of Robin Williams, the American actor who died on Monday at age 63.
The funnyman had been suffering from severe depression and early reports of his death suggest that it may have been suicide.
From his amazing early role in The World According To Garp to Mork and Mindy to his darker late career work like One Hour Photo, Williams was an accomplished actor. There was also a vulnerability evident that made him a little fragile.
With Williams’ death, it may be a reminder to any among us who are battling depression to get help.
In his life-affirming movie that dealt with suicide, Dead Poets Society, Williams spoke words of advice that we can all follow.
“If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? -- Carpe -- hear it? -- Carpe, Carpe Diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
Williams did. He will be missed.
Prince Albert Daily Herald