Rural Municipalities in area receive road funding

Carrot River Valley MLA Fred Bradshaw speaks following an announcement by the federal government to fund improvements to 50 km of Highway 55. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

On Monday the Government of Saskatchewan announced the allocations of funding through its Rural Integrated Roads for Growth (RIRG) program. Phase three, which is taking place during the 2021-22 budget year, will see 69 rural municipalities (RMs) receive $25.7 million in RIRG funding.

“The ministry has seen an engaged and enthusiastic response to the RIRG program,” Highways Minister and Carrot River Valley MLA Fred Bradshaw said in a release.

“This targeted effort improves the safety and quality of our rural infrastructure, strengthens partnerships with Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, our rural municipalities and creates another outlet to aid the province’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This program helps RMs with the cost of constructing and upgrading their infrastructure, which in turn helps support local industries like agriculture, energy and forestry, The RIRG grants cover up to 50 per cent of each project’s total cost, to a maximum of $500,000.

“The announcement of expanded financial support for rural road infrastructure is greatly appreciated,” Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities President Ray Orb said. “Economic recovery and funding to stimulate the provincial economy remains critical and this increased funding ensures our rural municipalities can contribute by investing in rural infrastructure that is supporting Saskatchewan’s rural-based industries.”

The 2021-22 RIRG budget is $28 million, which includes base funding of $15 million a year.  The budget is augmented by additional stimulus spending, which was brought in to help the government reach its goal of re-building 100 roads over three years.

Area Rural Municipalities receiving funding include the RM of Pleasantdale who have been allocated $240,000, the RM of Bjorkdale have been allocated $500,000, the RM of Willow Creek have been allocated $26,000, the RM of Canwood have been allocated $500,000, the RM of Spiritwood have been allocated $110,000 and the RM of Tisdale have been allocated $500,000.

Over the three phases of the RIRG program, there have been 219 road projects approved, valued at $233.6 million with $55.5 million in RIRG support. This includes 63 projects from Phases 1 and 2 that are currently active, valued at $72.3 million with $19.6 million in RIRG support.

The Government of Saskatchewan said in the release that they are improving more than 1,350 km of provincial highways this year, the second of its 10-year Growth Plan goal to build and upgrade 10,000 km of highways.

With this year’s projects, the province is ahead of the pace needed to meet this target at 2,350 km improved.

Another $300 million in highways stimulus funds is being invested over several years in thin-membrane surface upgrades, passing lanes and improvements to municipal roads and airports.