Sask. Party ignores concerns, plows on with troubling bypass route

The Opposition New Democrats are again challenging the government's current route for the Regina bypass as a local baseball club whose diamonds will be demolished says the government has ignored their concerns for over two years.

"This government is planning to pave over Pacers Park near Tower Road as part of their flawed plan for the Regina bypass, and has been ignoring the concerns of the Pacers baseball club since early 2013. The Sask. Party failed to do their homework and refuses to listen to legitimate concerns," said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader. "New Democrats want a Regina bypass, but we want that bypass to actually go around Regina, instead of cutting back into the city like the Sask. Party is planning."

The Opposition has pushed the government to reconsider the route of the bypass, but the Sask. Party refuses. Pacers Baseball Inc. said in a press release Thursday that the bypass will plow through Pacer Park at Arcola Avenue and Tower Road, and that the city and the province have failed to resolve how to relocate the diamonds. The Pacers say they’ve been sent a notice to vacate the land by April 30, 2016.

“This shortsighted route cuts inside Regina and will fail to divert much of the truck traffic,” said Wotherspoon. “I’m hearing from a lot of Saskatchewan people that they don’t think the Sask. Party is doing this big and important project right, and I think their legitimate concerns should be heard and taken seriously.”

Wotherspoon also criticized the Sask. Party's lack of transparency. Instead of releasing the full evaluation of the bypass route, it only allowed people to see a version after it had blacked out much of the text. 

"What doesn't the government want Saskatchewan people to know about their chosen route for the Regina bypass? What is it hiding? " asked Wotherspoon. "This is a $1.2-billion project and Saskatchewan taxpayers deserve an assurance that it is being done right, that it is the best route, that it is safest option and that it is the most cost-efficient option."

The NDP has also raised concerns about VINCI, the France-based company hired by the Sask. Party government to build and maintain the Regina bypass. VINCI is mired in troubling allegations and the Government of France is now investigating its human rights practices. As well, the NDP has expressed concerns about the use of a P3 financing and maintenance scheme for the project, which is a model that tends to cost more. In Ontario, the Auditor General found that 75 P3 projects cost $8 billion more than they would have cost if they were straightforward builds.