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Bill 35 (28 November 2006)

The Infrastructure Fund Act

Second Reading
From Hansard - 28 November 2006

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Mr. Hart: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to be able to make a few comments on the public record about Bill 35, An Act to establish the Saskatchewan Infrastructure Fund.

Mr. Speaker, a number of my colleagues have already spoken to this Bill, have raised a number of concerns. I understand that some discussion of this particular Bill took place in committee with the minister responsible. And so therefore, Mr. Speaker, I only have a few brief comments that I would like to make at this time because I believe my colleagues have raised a number of pertinent issues as to how the funds . . . the mechanism that should be put in place to distribute the funds under this Bill. Also they’ve raised some concerns about a number of other issues.

But one area, Mr. Speaker, that I would like to put forward is that I think this particular Bill and this infrastructure fund that is designed to aid our communities in the province with recreational and cultural facilities, I think this provides the government with an opportunity to incorporate some environmental standards within this program, Mr. Speaker.

And what I’m speaking specifically about is perhaps using the funds within this particular program to encourage our communities to incorporate energy efficient aspects. Whether it’s a new building or whether it’s an improvement to existing buildings, Mr. Speaker, we need to be proactive in this area and ensure that any improved facilities or new facilities incorporate the latest design features, and particularly with regards to energy efficiency because, Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we hear consistently from communities and particularly small communities, Mr. Speaker, is that they are having great difficulty looking after and meeting their energy needs of their facilities, Mr. Speaker. It is something that I believe all communities, whether they be small or large, Mr. Speaker, they have difficulty with the energy component of their operation of their facilities.

And, Mr. Speaker, so I think this particular program provides the government with an opportunity to move forward in that area, Mr. Speaker. And I speak with a bit of experience in this area. In the past I was part of my own home-community committee that worked on. And we ended up, through a great deal of work, we built a new recreational facility in our community. We looked into incorporating energy-saving measures in that project, Mr. Speaker. And what we found is that in order — at that time at least and I believe that’s still the case — in order to incorporate some of these energy-saving features in a building, quite often the capital costs are slightly higher at the time of construction. But the payback time will vary as energy prices increase. As the cost of heating and the cost of lighting the facilities increases, the payback period is quite a bit shorter, Mr. Speaker.

So as I said, this is an opportunity whereby the government can incorporate some of these requirements as part of this program, Mr. Speaker, and also incorporate the safeguards against perceived favouritism in awarding of grants and that sort of thing, Mr. Speaker, that my colleagues have already outlined.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that most of the existing concerns and questions that we might have with this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, can be dealt with in committee. So at this time I would move that this Bill move to committee.

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