Two NB projects get Municipal Economic Enhancement Program funds

Two municipal projects in North Battleford are getting Municipal Economic Enhancement Program funding for 2020.

At a special meeting held Tuesday evening, North Battleford council voted to authorize use of the provincial MEEP funding to finance the $1.45 million Carlton Trail Roadway Project. Council also approved proceeding with the 100th Street Service Project at $750,000, with the bulk of funding coming from MEEP 2020 funding and the remainder from reserves to be paid back over five years.

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The city estimates they can now internally borrow about $143,000 to complete both projects using their MEEP allocation, a 90 per cent reduction from what was originally anticipated. The city will now make an official application under the MEEP program for these two projects.

The Carlton Trail project between Territorial Drive and Heritage Way was already approved in the 2020 budget and was a go for 2020 construction, but the city would have borrowed $1.45 million internally to complete the project.

With the provincial funding, that amount will no longer be necessary. According to a memo circulated at council Tuesday from City Manager Randy Patrick, this “significantly drops future tax increases that would be required to replenish internal funds while shortening the time to return those funds for future capital use.”

As for the 100th Street project, that one was on the city’s radar for some 13 years, and had been pushed back again after the 2020 budget deliberations. That project involves the service road along 100th Street where A&W and Valley Ford are located in the north end of the city. The work will both replace the undergrounds and realign the street there, and there will be green space added as well.  

“This one was always very close to being funded but we just never had the financial resources,” said Bater. “This program has provided us the financial resources to proceed.”

With funding in place, work on both city projects can proceed this summer. Both are shovel ready projects and Bater said the design for the 100th Street project is already done.

Councillors were enthusiastic about finally getting the 100th Street project off the ground. “Let’s get it done, finally,” was Councillor Kevin Steinborn’s reaction.

The funding was also welcomed because it meant the city would not need to borrow internally, freeing up their reserves for future projects.  

“The implications will be felt for many years,’ said Bater. 

Approval was unanimous; both Councillors Kelli Hawtin and Greg Lightfoot declared conflicts of interest and did not vote. The special meeting itself, conducted by the ZOOM platform, was beset by technical and video difficulties but did ultimately proceed as scheduled. 

Earlier on Tuesday, the province officially announced that the city had been allocated $2,057,472 under the $150 million MEEP program.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is proud to continue to fulfil its commitment to the people of the province by ensuring important infrastructure dollars are available to our communities when they need it most,” Government Relations Minister Lori Carr said in a statement. “This $150 million investment into Saskatchewan’s municipalities can be used for shovel ready infrastructure projects and initiatives, and will help keep our municipalities strong during the current pandemic.”

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