For years, urban governments operated within tight budgets with very little money from the province. Cities found creative ways to maintain infrastructure and to provide for our citizens. Legislation prevents local governments from running deficits, and we tax no more than we need to in order to deliver the infrastructure, programs, and services our citizens expect. The municipal operating grant, launched by the provincial government in 2009, helped relieve some of the pressure on municipal pocket books, but we still work hard to innovate and provide the best for our citizens.
As the Mayor of Swift Current I can attest to the benefits of the partnership urban governments have built with the Government of Saskatchewan. In our city, we have been able to improve many areas, including: the Chinook Parkway, Credit Union iplex expansion, wastewater treatment plant, water treatment plant, Fairview Arena upgrade, the Highway #1 and #4 interchange, Airport Capital Program, SIGI funding, annual transit grants, and rehabilitation for streets, sidewalks and bridge repars.
There is still a lot more to do, as our cities are the key to building a stronger economy. Today, 60 per cent of all Saskatchewan citizens live in a city and nearly 80 per cent of all new residents to the province move to a city. Cities contribute more than $1.2 billion per year to the provincial economy. These staggering figures cannot be ignored.
When the province invests in cities and smaller communities, these governments take that investment and turn it into the foundation for growth. That foundation – things like clean and safe drinking water, better roads, police and fire services, transit, and recreation – works to power real growth by attracting citizens and businesses. This growth powers our provincial economy and produces a considerable financial return for the provincial government through higher income and sales tax revenue. In this model, everyone does their part, and everyone wins. Investing in cities just makes sense. That’s why our city is one of the Partners in Building our Saskatchewan.
Mayor Jerrod Schafer, Swift Current