Getting political parties to agree on the colour of the sky is a monumental task. Three political parties in Saskatchewan have come together to press the provincial auditor to review the “Communities of the Future” program.
The leaders of the Saskatchewan Green Party, The Saskatchewan Progressive Conservative Party, and the Saskatchewan Progress Party held a joint news conference in Regina.
“What exactly was this entity,” asked Saskatchewan Progress Party official agent Michael Medby. “At least $34 million dollars of taxpayer’s money was funnelled through Communities of Tomorrow. What benefit did we receive?”
The “Communities of the Future” program was a join venture of the federal and provincial governments and announced in May of 2003. It shut down in 2013.
It was supposed to make Regina “Canada’s first infrastructure innovation hub.”
“The plan was to have a permanent National Research Council presence in Regina. The research centre is long gone. Communities of Tomorrow is gone. This feels like the old shell game, and Saskatchewan taxpayers are the big losers,” said Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter.
“Let me be very clear. Communities of Tomorrow was created to help fund the study of asbestos cement water pipes. Those studies referred to asbestos fibres in the water as a health concern. Communities of Tomorrow is gone. The Research Centre at the University of Regina is gone. The only thing left is a lot of old asbestos cement water pipes,” said Hunter.
Progressive Conservative Party Leader Rose Buscholl pointed out that both the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP have been aware of this issue for decades and have done nothing.
“It’s time to get to the bottom of this issue, and solve it so it never happens again,” she said. “It’s time Saskatchewan taxpayers got some answers about Communities of Tomorrow, and what appears to be a failed plan to turn the province into an innovative infrastructure powerhouse.”
So far no comment from the Auditor’s Office on whether it is willing to take this on.