BY JONATHON GATEHOUSE • The government of Saskatchewan is pouring tens of millions into new housing and social development projects for Regina’s troubled inner city.
Last week’s surprise announcement by Premier Lome Calvert will see the city’s North Central and Core neighbourhoods reap the
benefits of a one-time, $100-million cash injection to help address poverty in some of the province’s most disadvantaged communities. The NDP has earmarked $ 15 million for a trades and skills college in downtown Regina, and a community services centre in North Central. The two neighbourhoods will
also share in $60 million in new funding for affordable housing and rent subsidies. The province wants to build 500 new low-cost housing units across Saskatchewan.
The program is just the latest in a series of government spending initiatives unveiled since early January, when Maclean’s identified North Central as “Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood,” touching off a national debate. Plagued by high crime, substandard housing, unemployment and addiction, Regina’s inner city has long ranked among the country’s poorest urban areas. At his press conference, the premier denied any link between the article and the timing of his announcement. “It didn’t play a role in causing this work to be done, but clearly it identifies some of the needs that we’re all very, very well aware of,” said Calvert.
In a campaign-style swing through Saskatchewan last week, federal Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion also paid a visit to North Central to highlight his party’s commitment to social justice. “I want to show that we are here to help the most vulnerable of our society,” said Dion, referencing the Maclean’s article. The leader of the Opposition used the backdrop to highlight differences with the Harper government, saying the Liberals believe in balanced budgets and a helping hand. If you have a strong market economy, Dion said, “you share the wealth to ensure that the people that are the most in need are helped.” M
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