I would like to acknowledge the recent success that Fred Matheson - Ted Matheson Men’s Wear here in Prince Albert recently achieved. As winner of the Community Cornerstone award at the recent Saskatchewan ABEX Awards, Fred has been recognized for his business values, which focus on networking, marketing and true engagement with the community in which you operate. Congratulations!
The Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce is in the midst of accepting nominations for our 25th Annual Samuel McLeod Business awards. We hope to recognize many of the outstanding business in our community. Nominate a business today. Full information is available here.
The Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce has continued its focus on the value and critical importance of infrastructure in our region. We recently partnered to commission a report by V-Max Management Canada, titled “Regional Business Case for a Second Vehicle Crossing over the North Saskatchewan River, Near the City of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan”. This report confirms many critical points, some of which may have been previously known, but the report more clearly identifies these stats, risks, and the economic importance and value to the region & province. The Prince Albert Chamber and its partners will be hosting a summit in the New Year to further relay these critical insights, please watch for details. A few brief insights into some of the points include: approx 75% of vehicle crossings originate from outside our community, further restrictions can create a varying degree of impacts from minimal to detours that require using the next available crossing at a distance of over 100 km outside Prince Albert, to where an outright closure could have a financial impact of 1.8 million/ day.
These points clearly signal the need for a second crossing and our region and province must begin planning for this. What is of great concern is the current attention our existing Diefenbaker Bridge is receiving. The 2013 Stantec report outlined recommendations for maintenance that would cost over seven million dollars.
Clearly, we need a second bridge, but will our first one last until we can get all required parties to come together to complete the critical planning, to move our region into the future with a strong focus on creating stable infrastructure? The Diefenbaker bridge is currently lacking a functioning asset management plan that would actively complete the required maintenance and strengthening efforts needed, to ensure this first bridge will last until the end of its projected useful life.
What is clear is that our Region and Province can’t bear the economic costs of not achieving the critical infrastructure that will drive and support our future growth. Through focused efforts, the Diefenbaker bridge requires maintenance to slow the deterioration while the region and province plan for a second bridge that could be eight to 14 years down the road.
The Chamber has many priorities and recently completed our 2015 Tax recommendations to the City of Prince Albert. We also enjoyed the opportunity to meet with administration and council to gain insights into the 2015 budget. It looks like the city’s budget results are in; a 2.57% increase on the mill rate for all sectors, and adjustments on how the Municipal Roadways levy and the Snow Management levy are allocated to the commercial sector. This adjustment will look to transfer some of the heavy burden from smaller business to larger businesses. While the majority of our community’s businesses are small, these levies continue to place an unfair and unsustainable burden on our the commercial sector and the long- term costs can be measured in reduced investment and attraction that is so greatly needed to grow both our commercial sectors and our community.
Well, the New Year is close at hand, and with it we will continue to focus on our priorities and look to contribute to planning that will focus on our community and region’s critical priorities.
On behalf of the Chamber board and Staff, I wish everyone a very safe and enjoyable holiday season. Take time to enjoy family and friends and where possible, think of those less fortunate. There are many opportunities to assist others this holiday season.