Moose Jaw's Financial Woes Make Question Period

Robert Thomas

The effects of the Provincial Government’s austerity budget and concerns raised by Moose Jaw City Council were front row centre in Tuesday’s Question Period in an exchange between Party leaders.

Opposition leader Dr. Ryan Meili asked about budgetary shortfalls Moose Jaw is experiencing due to provincial cuts to the City. The cuts are largely attributable to cuts in grants in lieu from SaskPower and SaskEnergy; plus a cut in the per capita Revenue Sharing because Moose Jaw has not grown as fast as other provincial centres.

“We’ll head a little further west to my hometown of Moose Jaw where they just saw their sewer rates go up by six percent, the water rate go up by nine percent, and a two year increase of over 12 percent in their property taxes – a direct result, according to Mayor Frasier Tolmie, of cuts in 2017 budget.”

Meili went on to state that the shortfall is keeping the City “from making desperately needed investments in capital expenses…with further tax increases next year because of the continuing consequences of this shortfall?”

The Opposition Leader went on to ask, “is anyone willing to stand up for the Friendly City and make sure there are no more surprises in this years budget?”

See Related: Mayor Decries Provincial Cuts

In response, Premier Scott Moe confirmed that he had met with Mayor Tolmie in recent months and that the provincial government had helped bring business to Moose Jaw.

“In recognizing the investment that has come from the provincial government, associated or affiliated or partnered with the federal government and the municipality of Moose Jaw, Mr Speaker, to ensure that the community can be open for business and moving forward.”

Moe stressed how the SaskParty had invested more money into Moose Jaw than the NDP did while in power. He stated how revenue sharing to the City increased 126 percent under a SaskParty government versus the NDP’s term in office, mentioning the NDP’s inability to keep its promise to build a hospital in Humboldt.

“Its members on this side of the House that continue to invest in our communities, including the one (hospital) in Moose Jaw,” Moe concluded.

Although Premier Moe never stated it, the only on-going joint municipal-provincial-federal investment in business related development is a project to construct necessary infrastructure for Canadian Protein Innovation’s (CPI) proposed $60 million pea protein plant.

The CPI plant was announced in late 2016 but a final deal was never reached. The provincial government’s contribution was to be a percentage of a cost sharing infrastructure project as well as a five year corporate tax holiday subject to legislative approval. Additionally, CPI was to pay for a gas pipeline to the new south industrial park.

The project is backed by the Germany-based  Bohnhorst Group.

In his last quarterly report, former City Manager Matt Noble reported working on the CPI deal. Presently the actual status of the proposal is unknown.

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