Husky Energy, the company responsible for the 2016 oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River, has agreed to a three-year partnership with the City of Prince Albert to help fund a series of local projects.
Mayor Greg Dionne officially unveiled the first project on Monday, announcing that Husky would pay $350,000 to finish the last 1.7 km of the Prince Albert Rotary Trail.
Dionne said Husky has already paid all the costs associated with the oil spill. This recent funding is something he called a “community cost.”
“They paid 100 per cent of the bills, so they owe us no money, but we do believe that they owe us one more step and that’s this step,” he said following Monday’s announcement.
Once completed, the Rotary Trail will run 23 km around Prince Albert’s perimeter. The trail was instrumental during the water crisis since it provided a clear path for two water lines connecting other freshwater resources with the city’s water treatment plant. That access allowed Husky Energy to save an estimated $190,000 in pipeline costs.
Husky spokesperson Mel Duvall said they were very appreciative of the way the City of Prince Albert worked with them in the days and months following the oil spill. This week’s funding announcements was a way of showing their gratitude.
“They were a great partner, and since that time we have looked for ways that we could partner with the City to make some meaningful contributions to community initiatives,” Duvall wrote in an email. “The announcement today and a couple of announcements that are yet to come are the result of that hard work.”
Duvall added that he expected to see further announcements in the future, since Husky is working on similar agreements with other communities affected by the oil spill.
The announcement came as a welcome surprise to the Prince Albert Rotary Club, who received the news during a lunch meeting on Monday.
The group has spent the last 18 years fundraising for the trail’s completion, and Rotary Trail committee member Arse Billo said it’s going to be a relief to see it completed.
“It’s about time,” he chuckled during an interview on Monday. “We’ve been working at this for 18 years—we had originally planned for a five-year project—so now it’s going to get completed it will be a great thing to have.”
Billo added that he hoped the trail completion would allow the city to host more recreational events, like full or half marathons. He also hopes to see more work done in the future, this time to create a link to Little Red River Park. For now, he’s just grateful to see the project finished.
During his announcement to the club, Dionne said he appreciated their efforts and called the trail one of the biggest legacies of their work in Prince Albert.
The city has two additional funding announcements planned for later this week. The total cost of all projects combined is expected to pass $1 million.