SUMMARY OF EVENTS TO DATE
For more than a decade our elected officials and many of their associated civic management have produced a number of redacted reports. These reports deal with the methodology and practices employed by those responsible for the Regina Bypass plans and their numerous arbitrarily imposed last minute changes. The following bullet points briefly overview only some of the many questionable events that have resulted from a process which was anything but transparent and fair to all concerned. In our opinion, our governing officials have sanctioned a number of reprehensible activities. We offer the following observations to illustrate our points:
- The provincial government approved building an expensive infrastructure, which to many, appears to be seriously flawed. Questions of safety and functionality arise which appear to have been deliberately ignored, resulting in a design that fails to address the most pressing needs that the new Regina Bypass was intended to address. Among several apparent flaws, the most glaring is the omission of an alternative artery for freight traffic northbound from the eastern entrance to the city.
- The bypass’s original projected cost of $400 million has now exploded to over $2 Billion Dollars. And many analysts believe the final bill could easily exceed $3 Billion Dollars!!
- Certain government-friendly developers and land speculators now have an extensive $2 Billion Dollar-plus Regina Bypass system in place to accommodate their commercial and residential development ambitions on the east, west, and south fringes of Regina.
- They will be positioned to benefit for at least the next century.
- Vinci, a scandal-ridden company from France, was awarded the Regina Bypass’s general construction contract as well as its 30-year maintenance contract. That incomprehensible decision has shipped off at least a Billion Dollars of public funds overseas.
- Many capable and deserving Sask. based road and bridge building companies received little or no work from this unprecedented public works fiasco. A number of those deserving and capable companies have now laid off workers, and some have even gone out of business.
- Too many good people have lost their land, homes, businesses, recreational facilities and property accesses. Some have had their life’s work, health, and futures damaged.
- A number of these besieged people who were living and/or working alongside the Regina Bypass’s “Pathways of Destruction” were relentlessly bullied and berated by the Ministry of Highways’ land acquisition managers. They were presumably “encouraging” them to quickly agree to unfair cash settlements.
- Former property owners were forced to sign confidentiality agreements precluding them from disclosing the details of these transactions with the local governing authority. Others have been stubbornly battling in court to seek more equitable compensation. As is often the case, the only real winners have been their lawyers. Finally, a handful of former property owners have since been afflicted with terminal illnesses.
- Conversely, government-friendly developers and land speculators have been paid up to 80 times more for their land holdings than was offered to long-time land, home and business owners in the same areas.
- A 40-year-old family-owned business (Super Seamless of Canada) was bulldozed through by the Ministry of Highways’ land expropriators. Those callous actions significantly harmed our local business operations and completely disrupted their International Business Expansion plans.
- The wasteful spending on the Regina Bypass has severely depleted the monies the Ministry of Highways critically needs to maintain and repair hundreds of existing highways throughout Saskatchewan which are designated as “roadways of concern.” Those “roadways of concern” would include the site of last April’s catastrophic Humboldt Broncos bus crash. Highway #6 south of Regina which also sadly claimed two more lives last fall, has been in need of attention for many years. It is likely destined to become another badly needed upgrading project to be delayed indefinitely.
- The wasteful spending on the Regina Bypass has also greatly contributed to the successive deficit budgets that have cut public sector jobs, services and wages. STC and other Crown Corporations have been either shuttered, shut down or sold off as a result
- Adding to the pain is the additional 6% provincial tax imposed on the construction and service industries. This could not have come a worse time for an industry already dealing with pressures imposed on a Federal level as well. These are all factors which have helped to plunge Saskatchewan into a broad-based economic recession that may take years from which to fully recover.
- Now we have a 55-kilometer jumble of terminals, interchanges, overpasses, roundabouts, diverging-diamonds and 4-lane thoroughfares constructed partly around the city. Many loyal taxpaying citizens have been and will continue to be affected by the fiscal and functional fallout this ill conceived plan has produced.
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS REMAIN
What will it take before a comprehensive Judicial Public Inquiry and a Forensic Audit are finally launched? We need to properly investigate every Regina Bypass land acquisition deal and every ‘last hour’ blueprint revision.
If only a few manipulative public and private sector individuals have colluded and conspired to rework the Regina Bypass into their very own enormous economic development opportunity, they absolutely must be exposed. Someone needs to be held accountable for damaging the trust of Saskatchewan taxpayers while benefiting the interests of a chosen few. We’re better than this!