Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark remembers a time when the Gordie Howe recreational area in the Holiday Park neighbourhood was an eyesore for the city.
“Eight years ago, when I was a councillor, we had delegation after delegation come in and tell the city, ‘The fields suck, the dressing rooms suck, the stands suck, it’s getting beat down, players are getting injured and we’re embarrassed,’” said Clark.
Clark, along with Premier Scott Moe and Member of Parliament Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that the federal government would allocate funds for the third phase completion of the Gordie Howe Sports Complex at a press conference at the complex on Sept. 4.
Over the summer, the federal government was in disagreement with the provincial government who wanted to prioritize recreation and culture projects using funds that were allocated to public transit.
In August, Moe aired out his frustration with the federal government via Twitter, calling on them to make adjustments to Canada’s 10-year infrastructure plan by transferring funds from the $307-million public transit stream to the $56-million community, cultural and recreation stream.
The premier says that they are able to move forward with higher priority projects as the federal government has promised that the funds from the CCR stream will be replenished.
The complex is one of 12 CCR projects across the province given the green light to move forward with construction from a collective funding totalling $72 million.
The impressive facility, once completed, will become an all-season and multi-sport complex inside the Holiday Park neighbourhood.
Although this is a breakthrough for the city and the province, there are still over 1,400 other CCR projects that have requested funding.
“We had $1.6 billion in applications so there is no shortage of need,” said Moe, who recognized that more changes are likely to be needed. “We continue to ask the federal government to open up those two funds so the cities can use those dollars where their priorities lie.”
Wilkinson, who is also a Saskatoon native, addressed the dispute between the levels of government, saying that “disagreements are normal and you have to work through them.”
Despite the disagreements between governments, Clark is hoping for a more smooth process in the future.
“It’s a 10-year agreement and this was the first round. Now, I’m hoping it can be a little clearer and a little smoother so we don’t have so much confusion leading up to it.”
The chairman of the Friends of the Bowl Foundation, Bryan Kosteroski, was a bit emotional commenting on the announcement.
“Going back eight years to now, this project has been in our hearts. The partnerships that we’ve seen have been tremendous,” said Kosteroski. “Nine sporting organizations are working together here now — that is unheard of.”
The partnership spans across various sports and will be instrumental to the growth of athletics inside the city and across the province.
“We’re like a family, everybody works together. Now, we’ve increased the opportunities for kids today, tomorrow and for many, many years,” Kosteroski said.
The 11 other projects that were approved for funding include upgrades to Regina’s Globe Theatre, new drinking water treatment plants in various small towns and the installation of a fibre internet network in Whitecaps Dakota First Nation.
Tanner Michalenko/ Sports & Health Editor
Photo: Tanner Michalenko/ Supplied