Building a new $80 million secondary sewage treatment plant is the number one priority as the City of Prince Albert prepares their want-list for the next federal budget.
The project is one of 12 on the city’s radar, and Mayor Greg Dionne said he’s optimistic they’ll receive a significant chunk of funding when the Liberal government brings forward their next budget.
“We have a Prime Minister now who says he wants to reconcile with the West and bring the West back in,” Dionne said during a joint press conference with Prince Albert Conservative MP Randy Hoback on Tuesday. “Well, they can do that by funding more projects for us.”
Hoback and Dionne met for over an hour at City Hall to discuss the sewage treatment plant and other infrastructure needs. Others on the list include the second stage of the west truck sewer line project, estimated at $4 million, and funding for a new “bus barn,” to reduce wear and tear on the city fleet. All projects must be shovel-ready.
Dionne said they’ll be happy with any funding they get, although the sewage treatment plant is definitely the number one priority. They’re looking for other partners to pay for $60 million of the $80 million project.
“We’re not greedy,” he said. “We’re happy we know what’s coming, so since then we’ve been working on our plan, so when they do come to us we’ll have everything ready.”
The meeting was just one of several Hoback has planned with local rural and urban leadership. He’s already met with officials from the RMs of Buckland, St. Louis and Prince Albert, as well as the towns of Birch Hills and St. Louis, among others, and has more meetings scheduled for later this week.
“I can’t promise anything because I don’t deliver anything. All I’m trying to do is anticipate what may be coming down and making sure we’re property prepared for that,” he explained. “The throne speech will set the direction. The budget might set the more physical areas…. We may have an early budget in February or March, so that’s why it’s important we do the work now so we’ve got everything lined up.”
Hoback said Ottawa needs to hear a consistent message from the region, and these infrastructure meetings will help make sure everyone’s on the same page.
The federal Liberals promised to run deficits for the next four years during the recent federal election, including a $20 billion deficit the next year alone. Hoback wants to make sure the region gets its fair share.
“My goal here is to get every single dollar I can for the needs of our riding out of Ottawa, because they’ll be a day where there’s a reckoning and books get balanced and things get cut and all of a sudden there’s no funding coming, so we’ve got to take advantage of it while this window’s open,” he said.
Hoback added that’s he’s optimistic about the area’s economic prospects. Diamond exploration projects in the Fort àla Corne Forrest and a prospective new hospital have him confident there will be an economic boost in the near future, and he wants to see the City take advantage of it.
“I’m more bullish about the region today than I ever have been in the last 15 years, and it’s nice to see the City looking at that and saying, ‘we’re going to be prepared when this does happen,’” he said.
For more on the first stage of the West Hill Trunk Sewer Main Project, see next Friday’s edition of the Daily Herald.