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$102M funding for green infrastructure, COVID-19 resilience projects in Saskatoon

Over $100 million in funding comes at a crucial time for Saskatoon’s economic recovery, says the city’s mayor.

Charlie Clark said it also positions the region for a strong future.

The federal, provincial and municipal governments jointly announced $102 million in funding on Friday for 11 green infrastructure and COVID-19 resilience projects.

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“These projects will improve our core infrastructure and ability to provide services, help make Saskatoon build toward a more sustainable lower-carbon future, and promote more health and activity for families,” Clark said in a statement.

Part of the funding will be used for the Meewasin trails enhancement project to increase capacity and accessibility to over 90 kilometres of trails along the South Saskatchewan River.

“The Meewasin trail network is built with goals for the lowest possible environmental impact and highest standards for safety and accessibility,” said Meewasin board chair Colin Tennent.

“The planned enhancements are invaluable outdoor spaces where community members and future visitors can stay active, learn about the environment, and experience nature that supports physical and mental wellbeing.”

New trails, benches, picnic tables and interpretative signage will be added, along with increased safety measures.

Tennet said there were increased demands in 2020 due to the pandemic, with almost two million visits recorded.

Green infrastructure projects announced as part of the funding include upgrades to drinking water and wastewater systems, improvements to solid waste management, sidewalk expansion and a new solar power plant.

Several of those projects will help provide long-term reliable services to local communities while also contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to the funding announcement.

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Jim Carr, the federal government’s special representative for the Prairies, said these are important infrastructure projects for the city.

“With the COVID-19 resilience stream, we are also responding to the impacts of the pandemic through flexible and accelerated investments in key infrastructure upgrades as quickly as possible,” Carr said in a statement.

“The funding announced today will help communities build back better, create jobs, and build cleaner, more inclusive communities.”

The federal government committed $41.1 million to the 11 projects and said funding is conditional for projects requiring consultations with Indigenous groups until all consultation requirements are met.

The Saskatchewan government pledged $34.3 million in funding to the projects.

“Infrastructure projects like these not only protect the local economy as it recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also helps build a strong and growing province,” said Saskatchewan’s Government Relations Minister Don McMorris.

The City of Saskatoon is supporting seven of the projects with $25.8 million in funding.

Click to play video: Saskatoon’s economy over 50% recovered: SREDA

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