On the eve of a provincial byelection being called in Thompson and on the heels of two government spending announcements, Progressive Conservative MLAs Cliff Cullen and Reg Helwer highlighted a couple of infrastructure projects in Thompson during their visit to the city May 9.
The biggest of the projects is $300,000 for Juniper Park upgrades that the City of Thomson is getting from the province’s Building Sustainable Communities program, matching what the municipality will put in.
“This will provide much-needed upgrades to the outdoor space for all to enjoy, such as the replacement of the outdoor rink boards, renovations at the wading pool and renovations of the playground to make them both more accessible,” said Helwer, MLA for Brandon west, who serves as the province’s government services minister.
Mayor Colleen Smook said improvements to the park and its dilapidated wading pool have been on the city’s radar since she was a councillor.
“These are things that have been needed long-term,” she said. “[The wading pool] was an issue we had to address and we'd actually identified that a water park would be the suitable thing to go in there to replace that.”
More provincial funding heading the city’s way is $153,000 from the province’s $15 million Municipal Road Repair Fund, which Cullen, who serves as economic development minister, said represents five per cent of the basket operating and infrastructure grant that municipalities receive annually.
“This will assist the city with costs related to infrastructure improvements to accessing repair materials, and addressing any labour shortage it may have to make those repairs,” said Cullen.
The MLAs also announced that the Thompson YWCA is getting $42,500 for HVAC system renovations.
“A new HVAC system would be difficult for the YWCA Thompson to be able to afford on its own,” said YWCA Thompson executive director Kim Hickes. “Programs such as Building Sustainable Communities provide much-needed financial support to upgrade aging facilities to ensure that they are able to continue to offer programs and services to Thompson and the surrounding region.”
Hickes said the Y provided nearly 19,000 nights of accommodations in the 2020-21 operating year and that, in addition to short-term hostel stays, the Y residence also provides emergency overflow accommodations for the Thompson Crisis Centre, as well as various other services, including a place for vulnerable homeless people to stay during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HVAC work is due to begin within a month and to be completed by the end of June, Hickes said.
A provincial byelection for June 7 is expected to be called by the provincial government on May 10. Once that call is made, Election Financing Act communications blackout rules will restrict government advertising and spending announcements for the duration of the four-week campaign period.