Sask. Drive repaving 2019 highlight for Melfort mayor Lang

MELFORT — Rick Lang, Melfort’s mayor, said 2019 was good, but challenging.

“I don’t remember a year so much has been accomplished, so credit to our administration I would say for getting it done,” he said.

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“Even when we set the plan in place at the end of next year, I had my doubts whether it would all get done, but it did. Credit to our management skills of our administrative team.”

Lang said one of the most popular projects was the resurfacing of Saskatchewan Drive.

“The thing that people are most aware of is the recapping of Saskatchewan Drive,” he said. “That was huge. That was in total almost a three million dollar expenditure, although most of that was covered by the highways department.”

The City of Melfort was responsible for 25 per cent, the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure covered the other 75 per cent of the costs through Urban Highway Connector Program.

Lang said one resident told him that after Saskatchewan Drive got repaved he drove up and down it about eight times.

“Just driving up and down, because it was so smooth and he just couldn’t believe it. So, I can’t believe he did that. But he did, and he said, ‘I just couldn’t believe that you accomplished that. I just had to drive up and down it, just to experience it.’”

Lang said he personally felt it was fulfilling to have this completed.

“I met with highways every single year since I became mayor and I was told by one of the previous highways ministers they will be doing the service roads last year, which they did. They repaved all the service roads to the southeast corner of the city. They redid those service roads, and I was told at the same time they would be doing Saskatchewan Drive [the following year].”

What impressed Lang, he said, was that it happened.

“Because sometimes you get told these things and they don’t happen.

I was very pleased to see they followed through on the commitment they gave to us verbally.”

Water line replacement was completed on Saskatchewan Drive before the resurfacing, along with a waterline on Main Street.

“We were having continuous breaks there and it was impacting the businesses on that block on Main Street.”

Over $600,000 of sidewalk replacement occurred in 2019. In 2020, Lang said that the city will be looking at doing another $400,000.

Other 2019 highlights include new fire equipment for Melfort Fire and Rescue, including a new jaws of life. 

“We upgraded around Brunswick School because there was some concern there about traffic flow, so we did some build outs there to slow traffic down and what I hear from residents around there it’s working extremely well.”

New crosswalk lights were installed by Shadd Drive, and new LED lights were installed in the Northern Lights Palace.

“We resurfaced the Kerry Vickar floor in the gym and put a new sound system into the Northern Lights Palace.”

A major highlight Lang said was adding the new splash park and all accessibility park at Spruce Haven Recreation Area, which was an almost $1.2 million project.

“Another major thing most people are probably not even aware of is we acquired some land out on Highway 41 for future commercial development, and that was over a million dollars.”

In 2020, Lang said the city is hoping to get approved for the Investing in Canada program for their water line replacement. If the city gets approved for it, it will cover $11 million out of the $17 million project to remove outdated water infrastructure.

“We’ve been talking to the various levels of government to try to press upon them the dire need for this to be considered and approved because we’re at the point right now where we’re experiencing about 20 per cent water loss. That means for every five gallons that goes through the system for SaskWater and gets billed to us, one of those gallons is going down the drain.”

From January 2000 to present, the city lost about $3.5 million in unbilled water loss thanks to leaks and breaks. In 2018, the latest complete year recorded, 20.57 per cent of the water was unbilled, which equals about $223,000.

Lang said that in addition to the extreme cost, it’s not environmentally friendly to waste that amount of water.

“It’s a commodity we think is endless but it’s really something that you should be conserving when you can. Right now we’re not accomplishing that but we need help from the provincial and federal government to make that happen.”

In 2020, the City of Melfort will also be looking at repaving their airport. The city is putting a federal application in for federal funding for the project.

“We’re hoping we can get $275,000 from that grant, because that’s the maximum and that’s what we’re hoping for. The entire project is in excess of $800,000.”

The city is hoping for regional co-operation from partners for the airport as well.

“The weight of some of the planes is causing it to have some issues so we’re hoping to accomplish that in 2020 as well.”

The STARS heliport is planned to be constructed in 2020 at the Melfort Hospital, and planned to be operational by mid-summer. Fundraising is ongoing, and Lang said is “going very well.”

Lang said one of the other items for 2020 items is a fitness circuit at the Spruce Haven Recreational Area.

“It’s supposed to have something for everyone, so it’s kind of something else people can do out there.”

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