From the office of Bob Bjornerud
Saskatchewan Continues to Post Strong Population Growth
New figures from Statistics Canada show the number of people living in Saskatchewan grew by 5,242 to an all-time high of 1,138,879 in the third quarter of 2015. Saskatchewan’s population has now grown by 146,000 people over the past decade, after declining by nearly 24,000 over the previous decade.
While we are facing serious challenges in the energy sector, Saskatchewan’s diverse economy continues to create new jobs and our population continues to grow. That’s a big difference from a decade ago, when a downturn in one sector would mean fewer jobs and a declining population.
$100 Million in Savings for New Schools
Eighteen new elementary schools are on track to welcome students in Saskatchewan’s fastest-growing communities by September 2017. In a report prepared by KPMG, independent financial experts confirm the Public Private Partnership (P3) model will save taxpayers $100 million compared to a traditional model.
A total investment of $635 million (in today’s dollars) includes the cost of design, construction, finance and more than 30 years of maintenance to ensure these schools remain in like-new condition. KPMG’s report confirms the same project would have cost $735 million if it was delivered through a traditional approach.
40 Saskatchewan companies are now at work on the province’s largest schools build in history, a project recently honoured by the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships at their national awards.
Students, families, and communities can see the incredible progress being made with the launch of construction site webcams. The high definition cameras provide continuous still photo video of school construction sites 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can view them online at saskatchewan.ca.
Provincial Parks Set New Visitation Record in 2015
Saskatchewan’s provincial parks and recreation sites hit a new attendance record of nearly 3.9 million visits in 2015. Strong visitation can be attributed in part to the province continuing to provide excellent visitor services and the enhanced capital infrastructure investment. Our government is committed to investing in park infrastructure to support the current demand and future growth of visitation.
Since 2007-08, our government has invested nearly $92 million in upgrades and improvements to provincial park infrastructure. Projects include the development of two new campgrounds, upgrading or replacement of service centres, extensive campsite electrical expansion and upgrading, water and wastewater system upgrades, new and enhanced boat launches, and new campsite furnishings.
The opportunity to spend time with family and friends in a beautiful, natural setting is very important to the people of our province, and is only growing in popularity. We are proud to offer high-quality experiences and are always looking at ways that we can enhance our offerings.
Provincial Parks Announce Dates for 2016 Seasonal Camping Program
If you’re dreaming of summer as the winter weather starts settling in, there are a few dates you may want to circle on the calendar for 2016.
Application forms for seasonal campsites will be available online at http://www.saskparks.net beginning Monday, January 4, 2016. The deadline for applications is Thursday, January 28, 2016 and the draw to award the campsites will be Monday, February 1, 2016.
Seasonal camping offers the opportunity to secure a campsite from mid-May to the end of August, or even into September at some of the 20 parks and recreation sites that offer the program. Due to the popularity of seasonal camping, sites are allocated via a lottery system.
Due to the spring election, the dates for the nightly camping reservation launch will move to April. It will follow the same format as 2015, utilizing a queuing system and staggering the launch over a 10 day period. More information about the launch will be available early in 2016.
Saskatchewanderer Leaves Lasting Impression
Ashlyn George’s stint as the 2015 Saskatchewanderer—the most successful year yet— wraps up this week. George spent the year successfully showcasing Saskatchewan as a great place to live, work and play, gaining more than 20,000 followers since January through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Ashlyn took the Saskatchewanderer program to another level and made a lasting impression wherever she travelled. Operators consistently shared with Tourism Saskatchewan their appreciation of her knowledge, enthusiasm and genuine interest in the work that drives Saskatchewan’s tourism sector.
Saskatchewanderer partners are currently choosing who will travel the province next year. You can follow their adventures online at saskatchewanderer.ca, on YouTube (Sask Wanderer), Facebook (facebook.com/skwanderer), Twitter (@SkWanderer) and Instagram (@Saskatchewanderer).