Federal funds to flow west

Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, came home last Thursday to announce new funding for upgrades to existing infrastructure in Western Canada.

The announcement held at the Kenaston Swimming Pool saw the Kenaston resident and Conservative Party MP for Blackstrap announce $46.2 million in funding allocated towards community facilities including local arenas, community centre’s and sports fields over the next two years.

“This money is targetting community points of interest,” said Yelich. “It is not very easy to get money. Swimming pools are very expensive to run, so when they need an upgrade any money they can access for the upgrade is significant. (By holding the press conference at the pool) we’re trying to demonstrate the idea of what kind of community infrastructure would be able to apply for this funding.”

The money will be paid out to a community by regional agencies after a project has been completed and is in line with their proposal to Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), an agency run by Yelich’s department. Only existing infrastructure that is in need of upgrades need apply.

Dan O’Handley, Mayor of the Village of Kenaston, said applications would be going out to WD towards getting a new filtration system for the pool as well as gaining a grant for upgrades to their hockey rink. He said that he wasn’t aware that money would be flowing west this quick, but was happy to have Minister Yelich back to announce the new spending.

“In rural Saskatchewan, money is hard to come by,” said O’Handley. “We’re not like the big places where they get a lot more grants. When we do get one, we’re always appreciative.”

Yelich said the money is only going towards existing infrastructure upgrades because funding new projects is just too expensive in a time when the government is trying to get out of deficit and into a balanced budget.

“In the meantime, all these communities may need is maybe a pump or a roof or an upgrade of some sort that will make a significant difference to that community,” she said. “Whether it’s seniors, the Legion, or the library, if there is something that needs an improvement then that’s what we will do.”