By Jeff Labine
The Gateway to the North could become the first city in the province to have a tolled bridge.
Prince Albert city council took the first by requesting administration to compile a report. If a toll was placed on the Diefenbaker Bridge, the money would go towards building a secondary bridge across the Saskatchewan River.
P.A. residents would be exempt from paying for the toll.
Ward 1 Coun. Charlene Miller, who put forward the motion, said a toll would show the federal and provincial governments the city is actively trying to raise funds for a second bridge.
“Instead of taxing our residents, we are actually going to tax the actual user of the bridge,” she said. “Families in my ward say they don’t even use the bridge. My families are not going to participate in building a brand new bridge because they cannot afford to do that.”
She said all the details on how the toll will be implemented will have to wait until the report is completed.
A second bridge has been looked at for years, dating all the way back to 1977. There’s three possible locations, each with their own price tag. The cheapest option is at Sixth Ave. E., where the estimated cost is $47.5 million.
Only Ward 7 Coun. Dennis Nowoselsky voted against even looking into the toll-bridge idea.
He said the city could benefit from a new bridge but couldn’t support the motion as he believed it would only hurt residents. He criticized the provincial government for mismanaging the Regina Bypass as the additional money thrown at the project could have paid for a second bridge.
Mayor Greg Dionne added there’s no harm in the city taking a look at the idea and could move the second bridge project forward.
“It’s something Saskatchewan hasn’t looked at and it’s about time,” he said. “It is a different funding model that’s been used.”
The report by administration will come back for further discussion at a later executive committee meeting.