Top 10 stories of 2019

620 CKRM is counting down the top 10 stories in the province in 2019. Here is a list of some of the biggest news headlines over the year.


10. Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital opens

The Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon held its grand opening an ribbon cutting in September 2019.

The facility was complete with new equipment, private rooms for each patient and fun areas where the children and their families could escape the medical stress.

In October 166 patients were transferred to the hospital, with the first patient arriving by ambulance just 10 minutes after the doors opened.

Vice President of Provincial Programs with SHA Corey Miller said staff were excited to start working in the building and bringing top quality care to children.

Miller added that there were some issues that popped up as patients were being transferred in, but they were all resolved fairly quickly.


9. Regina Bypass

As he rolled down the newly built highway in a semi-truck, Premier Scott Moe was excited to announce the completion of the Regina Bypass back in late October.

The $1.8-Billion bypass took four years to complete, and garnered criticism from some Saskatchewan residents over the cost and time frame of the project.

However,  Moe said it’s a massive investment for a couple reasons such as transportation of goods and driver safety.

“Yes, we’ll focus on ensuring that we can continue to move our export-based products out of our province, in and around capital city, but most certainly, a project that is focused on the safety of our families that are also traveling in and around the Regina area.”

The provincial government has said it will save the province $2.3-Million every year in property damage, injuries and fatalities.

8. Saskatchewan’s carbon tax fight

In May, Saskatchewan took the federal carbon tax to the Court of Appeal for being unconstitutional.

The court denied the province’s claim and ruled that the federal environment levy is constitutional.

Premier Scott Moe immediately stated his displeasure and said the province would be taking the fight to the Supreme Court.

In late May the province filed the appeal to the Supreme Court with the support of both Justice Minister Don Morgan and NDP Critic Nicole Sarauer.

Saskatchewan is now waiting to make its case.


7. The Capital Pointe saga

It was a local saga that lasted for years, but it finally came to a close back in the fall of 2019.

The Capital Pointe project on the corner of Albert Street and Victoria Avenue was meant to be 26 storeys of condos and hotel rooms, and was set to be the tallest building in the city when it was announced in 2009.

Excavation of the site didn’t actually start until autumn of 2015. And after many delays and complications with permits, the hole where the Plains Hotel used to stand turned into an eye sore in Regina’s downtown area.

In the end, it was decided that the hole was to be backfilled.

When the ruling to fill the “Queen City Crater” was made earlier this year, Karen Gasmo with the City of Regina said there was lots to do to complete the backfill project.

“There was about 50,000 cubic metres of dirt to be removed, the removal of shoring and materials on the site, reinstatement of the sidewalks and lighting, and making sure the site is in a safe condition,” explained Gasmo.

The hole was completely filled in October, and since its completion, the city has been taking offers for ownership of the site.

Maybe we’ll finally see something built on that corner within the next few years.


6. Garth Brooks and Heritage Classic come to Mosaic Stadium

Garth Brooks and the NHL’s Heritage Classic coming to Regina were both once in a lifetime events according to both Regina Exhibition Association Limited and the City of Regina.

Brooks took to the Mosaic Stadium stage not once, but twice back in August.  One performance was delayed because of a thunderstorm which rolled through the Regina area.

Mayor Michael Fougere said it was one of the many reasons why the new stadium was built in the first place.

“This is fantastic news to have Garth Brooks coming here August 10th. It is absolutely fantastic for music lovers across Regina and the province, all over the place, it’s going to be an August to remember,” Fougere said. “This is why we built the stadium, was to have events like this come here; world-class events like Garth Brooks coming here, so we are very pleased and honoured to come here.”

The concerts weren’t the only special event to take place in Mosaic Stadium. Two short months later, Regina welcomed the first out-of-market outdoor NHL game, as the Winnipeg Jets played Calgary Flames in the Heritage Classic.

REAL President and CEO Tim Reid said the game was virtually a sell-out a week before the game.

After the Heritage Classic, the Regina Pats were able to use the ice for the WHL’s Prairie Classic against the Calgary Hitmen, a game they lost in overtime.

5. Biggest strikes across the province

2019 may be remembered by some as the year of strikes in Saskatchewan.

The back half of the year saw workers from the Crowns, CN Rail and currently the Co-op refinery take to the picket lines.

In September, nearly 5,000 Crown workers went on strike after Unifor and the government were unable to reach a deal at the bargaining table.

The strike lasted for just over a couple weeks, which prompted one of Unifor’s lead negotiators Scott Doherty to say he was proud of their members for their efforts during those 16 days.

“They were steadfast and the solidarity they showed at the line was amazing. It showed that if you stand up to this government, you can actually make some differences,” stated Doherty.

After a buildup of tension and conflict between CN Rail and the Teamsters union, November saw 3,200 CN workers in the Queen City, Saskatoon and Melville walk off the job to protest the lack of a new contract.

During the eight-day strike, over 100 workers from Saskatoon travelled to the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina to voice their concerns regarding the situation. Speaking to reporters in the rotunda, Teamsters shared their concerns revolved around work safety and getting a fair deal for both sides.

The sides agreed to a new contract on November 26.

And now as we enter 2020, Unifor and the Co-op refinery have yet to agree on a renewed deal after the company issued a lockout notice to workers on December 3. The lockout notice came just after the union announced 48 hour strike notice.

The situation has had its ugly moments, including Co-op using helicopters to fly supplies and temporary workers to the facility after picketers were delaying trucks and supply vehicles from entering and exiting the refinery.

The main issue involves the pensions of employees. There’s no word on when the sides will return to the bargaining table.


4. Grey Cup 2020 announcement

2020 is quickly lining up to once again be a Celebration in Rider Nation.

The CFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders announced the Grey Cup game will be played in the Queen City for the first time since the Riders won it all in 2013, and for the first time ever in the new Mosiac Stadium.

With the Riders hosting playoff games in back-to-back seasons many feel the team has a good chance to once again make history and win the Grey Cup at home like they did seven years earlier.

Roughriders President and CEO Craig Reynolds says no matter what, it’s going to be a party in Regina come November.

“We’re having the entire Grey Cup festival on the Evraz Place site, that’s our plan right now so it’s going to be a Grey Cup village, it’s never been done before where the entire festival site is right where the actual game is going to be played, so we think that’s really neat,” Reynolds said.

Rumor has it hotel rooms for the week are already next to impossible to find in both Regina and Moose Jaw.


3. Distracted driving fines increase

SGI and the provincial government have had enough with distracted driving in Saskatchewan.

Distracted driving has proven to be a challenge in Saskatchewan with the province reporting some of the highest numbers across the country in recent years.

On November 19, the government announced a sharp increase in penalties for people who are caught driving while distracted – whether they are using their cell phone or they are performing other actions that take their full attention away from the road.

Effective February 1, 2020, motorists will be hit with a $580 fine for their first offence.

SGI minister Joe Hargrave hopes drivers will finally pick up their message and realize getting caught means they could lose a lot of hard-earned money.

“If people have to pay $580, they will figure out and realize they can’t afford $580,” he said to reporters following the announcement. “I don’t know how many here are wanting to throw $580 away.”

And the penalties only go higher from there – much higher.

A second offence within a year of being convicted of the first will cost $1,400 and a vehicle seizure for seven days. The third offence will result in a $2,100 ticket and vehicle seizure.


2. Federal election outcome and Goodale defeated 

It was a divisive Federal election in October that saw the fall of major politicians in the Regina area.

It was still a Liberal win, but it shrunk to a minority after a decisive election campaign in the fall. The election saw the west swarmed in Conservative seats, as the Liberals were shut out in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.

One victim of the Conservative sweep was Ralph Goodale, who said on election night he’s not sure what’s next for him.

“I was totally riveted on this campaign, this riding, doing the very best job I possibly could, and we’ll see what unfolds in the future,” Goodale said. “I have no specific plans.”

Andrew Scheer was the Conservative leader during the election, but has since stepped down. He had a message for those frustrated with this year’s result.

“We hear you loud and clear, we will fight for you, we will do everything that we can to make sure that this Liberal government understands that it has to change course,” Scheer said. “It cannot continue to attack our energy sector (or) to kill big projects that get our natural resources around the world.”

The election result sparked western separation rumours across the prairies, only to be shut down by politicians of all strips, including Premier Scott Moe.


1. Sidhu sentencing

In March 30-year-old Jaskirat Sidhu learned his fate for causing one of the deadliest road crashes in Canadian history.

Sidhu who pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing deal and 13 more causing injury was sentenced to eight years behind bars for his role in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, a tragedy that made headlines around the globe.

On that day Christina Haugan who’s husband Darcy, the teams coach at the time was killed said it was simply another step moving forward through the grieving process.

“This is one step, and then April 6th is one more step then all we can do is try and move on from there,” she said after Sidhu’s sentence was announced.

In the weeks following the crash a GoFundMe page raised well over $15-million for the survivors and victims families.

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