The head of the organization responsible for Saskatoon’s riverfront pathway system is sounding the alarm about a major cash crunch.
Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA) CEO Lloyd Isaak asked for just over $2.7 million in a letter to the Government of Saskatchewan, the City of Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan — the three groups responsible for the MVA’s funding.
The letter includes an itemized list of repairs and upgrades Isaak said are needed for buildings and trails.
In an interview with CKOM News, Isaak said the MVA’s buildings on 3rd Avenue and in the Beaver Creek Conservation area are beginning to show decades of wear.
“We’re not talking about major renovations here. We’re talking about restoring what we have here, so that we can stop the leaking, and we can put in the proper insulation and the proper heating and ventilation systems,” he said.
Isaak said just over $1 million would be earmarked for fixing up the trails — including fixing cracked asphalt where plants and tree roots have burst through. Money would also go to widening trails to accommodate higher traffic resulting from Saskatoon’s growth, and reducing the slope of some sections to accommodate wheelchair users.
“The trails are in some state of disrepair. They were built some 20 to 30 years ago to a standard that isn’t valid today,” he said.
Isaak said they’ve flattened the small reserves they had in place and have reached the limit of what they can realistically raise from the private sector.
“We will try to maintain a reasonable level of service by continuing to sort of put Band-Aids on the situation. But really, at some point, we’re really going to need to face the music here,” he said, adding that “while the demand for services that Meewasin provides increases, our funding continues to decline through cost-of-living erosion.”
Acknowledging that the City of Saskatoon agreed to provide $250,000 more for trail maintenance in the 2014 budget, Isaak said that still isn’t nearly enough for them to build up adequate reserves.
A funding request with the province was put in last December, which Issak is hoping will make it through the provincial budgeting process.
“Now, with the aging assets and the aging facilities, we really need to get an answer one way or the other from our participating parties as to what their vision for the work that we do is,” he said.