A week ago Saskatchewan had another horrific death toll on our highways. For a province of our size to have a half a dozen fatalities in one weekend is appalling. One of the highways where this seems to be a reoccurring event is Highways #6 and #39 from Regina to the US border at Portal. The advent of a booming oil patch along this major transportation corridor has meant that there are high volumes of heavy truck traffic, high volumes of commuter traffic going to work in the oil patch and the ever-increasing volumes of tourism and consumer traffic from the United States and the growing cities of Weyburn and Estevan.
People are using secondary highways like Highway #33 and others in order to avoid the traffic on #39. The government of Saskatchewan does not miss a week in telling us how the oil sector in southeast Saskatchewan is booming and it is all because of the Sask Party government’s initiatives in the oil and gas sector.
One only has to look at the budget documents of this province to know that our big spending government could not survive without their oil income. I think it is time that some of that oil income stay in southeast Saskatchewan and that the twinning process of Highway #39 needs to be an annual summer event. I know there is a group out of Estevan that have been pushing this agenda for the last couple of years and my hat goes off to their efforts.
I think it is time that they started electing some MLAs from this area of the province that will start fighting for things that their citizens and the province needs desperately. Human life is a very precious commodity and in a province as wealthy as ours, there should be long-term planning in place to protect all citizens in our growth plans. Some of the oil revenue has to stay in southeast Saskatchewan. If this means a dedicated royalty or a dedicated well head surcharge or some type of mechanism of royalty sharing with the appropriate dedicated sunset clause attached to it then I think it is time to consider such a move. I know the Provincial Auditor does not particularly like dedicated funds because politicians tend to abuse them but I think there must be some way for such a mechanism to be put in place to solve this particular problem.
The death toll on this highway and the surrounding ones cannot continue unabated. This is one of the most important economic arteries that we have in this province and its safe operation is crucial to the well being of everyone in this province. The Sask Party takes southeast Saskatchewan for granted. It is time for a massive change in attitude or a change of political representation in this area.
My final note today is how our crafty Sask Party politicians and their friends in Regina city council have found another way to pump another $75 million into the new stadium in Regina. Sask Sport is now going to sign a 30 year rental agreement with the city of Regina for some office space and “facility rental” of the new stadium that will guarantee that the city can operate this new home for the Riders without running large deficits.
Sask Sport is an independent agency that does receive gobs of taxpayer money both through the front door and of course, through lotteries and other so-called arms-length agencies. The issues around this stadium have not been fully addressed. The issues around public parking and how much public use there will be aside from the Riders and their organization have not been fully revealed. I am sure there will be ongoing attempts by the Wall government to find creative ways of funnelling money into this project. This is after all one of Mr. Wall’s coveted “legacy” projects. None of Mr. Wall’s attempts in the past have been terribly successful. Spending more taxpayer’s money to make this one work will not bother him in the least.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.