North commuter bridge funding in dispute

By David Giles, Global News November 28, 2013 - SASKATOON - A dispute is building between the City of Saskatoon and the provincial government over funding for the North Commuter Parkway Bridge. Saskatoon’s mayor had hoped to see the much needed bridge linking the Marquis Downs industrial area with University Heights by 2016, but that timeline is now impossible.

The city applied to both the federal and provincial governments to help fund the project but it’s still waiting to hear back from the province.

The city has received a letter from SaskBuilds acknowledging the request for funds.

“We have done a lot of projects with the province of Saskatchewan and one would think then hopefully that this was a great project for the fastest growing city in Canada,” said Mayor Don Atchison.

Don McMorris, the minister responsible for SaskBuilds, says building a bridge within city limits is not something traditionally funded by the province.

“We’re having to decide within our government whether this is a highways project, which it really isn’t because it’s not connecting two provincial highways,” McMorris said.

“We also realize that if we are able to fund his project it may have some impact on the congestion that we’re seeing in northern Saskatoon, so it is attractive in some sense.”

City documents tell a different story. Those documents indicate the province has help fund every traffic bridge built in Saskatoon, including the recently completed Circle Drive South Bridge.

The next intake for provincial funding isn’t until March 2014, but the city can move forward with an application to P3 Canada without provincial support.

It’s an option Atchison is considering.

© Shaw Media Inc., 2013. All rights reserved.