Summertime and the politicking is easy.
On August 21, Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit welcomed Premier Brad Wall to a community barbecue at City Centre Park.
Wall, along with finance minister Ken Krawetz, pressed the flesh and generally chatted up constituents under ideal conditions for a summer evening event.
Although politicians may not ever be truly off-the-clock — in fact, there was a Sask Party fundraising component to the event — it wasn’t what one might call a truly working visit either, Ottenbreit explained.
“It’s something Brad’s been trying to do because a lot of the events he ends up going to are party-specific events,” he said. “People don’t really want to go to them sometimes if they’re maybe not supporters or not political, but he likes to connect with people in the different constituencies and a community barbecue, people are more apt to come out.”
The premier was keeping it non-partisan and pretty light-hearted joking about accepting Ottenbreit’s invitation. “When Greg asks for something we always try to deliver because otherwise he just keeps asking,” Wall quipped.
He did take the opportunity to meet with Mayor Bob Maloney and City Council, however, although nothing really substantive came of it. Not surprisingly, Wall said infrastructure was at the forefront of the discussion.
“They’re dealing with the challenges of growth just like province is,” he said. “We would rather have those challenges than the challenges of decline we had for decades, but they’re still issues to deal with.”
Although he wasn’t ready to talk numbers, Wall said when the federal government announces its 2014-2015 infrastructure program in the spring, which he anticipates will be a third-third-third arrangement, the Province and the City will be ready with their matching funds.
Maloney said although the meeting was basically just general discussion, infrastructure help was welcome news.
“We were pleased to hear the government has earmarked money to help communities with infrastructure, but they’re pretty much waiting for the federal government,” he said.
Maloney pointed to plans to remediate Broadway Street saying it will be perhaps the biggest infrastructure project the City has ever done.
“With federal and provincial money, we can do it,” he said. “Without it, if we have to go it alone, we’ll have to decide how much of a piece we can bite off.”