BY ALLISON WERBOWETSKY
For a third consecutive year, the
provincial government will fork over $500,000 to Saskatchewan’s 10 shortline railways. The Shortline Railway Sustainability
Program (SRSP) is a cost-shared grant which requires the shortlines to match the $500,000 and divvy it out amongst them based on size. Receiving the largest sum of money is the Great Western Railway (GWR) based out of Shaunavon. Running nearly 500 km in length and hauling approximately 5,000 cars per year, GWR is the longest and busiest shortline track in the province. GWR will receive $176,811 of the pot, and the Great Sandhills Railway (GSR) out of Leader will get $66,660, the second highest portion. SRSP was created by the Saskatchewan ministry of highways and infrastructure in 2008 as a way to help shortlines afford the necessary upgrades to help make the tracks as safe and efficient as possible. The Saskatchewan Shortline Railway Association (SSRA) was established earlier that same year to give shortline groups a bigger voice. It is made up of members from all 10 shortlines. “(SRSP) was something that we had asked for. A lot of these shortlines started up with not much capital and whatever tracks they took over, abandoned tracks, were in pretty tough shape,” said Roger Gadd, chair of SSRA and general manager of GWR.
“The amount of money it takes to upgrade tracks and so on, none of the shortlines really had any money to do
this, so we asked for government assistance. The sustainability program was born out of that need,” Gadd added. Generally, the grant money is used for railway tie replacement, bridge repairs and track work. Basically, “whatever it takes to bring the track to a safer mode of operation and also to increase the speed.”
Originally, there were only eight
shortlines eligible to share the grant. Now with 10 shortlines and another two likely to join in the next year, the $500,000 per year is wearing thin. Gadd and other members of SSRA assumed that total would be increased over the years. They are now asking for an expansion of the program. “We’re obviously really happy to be getting a portion of it. Every little bit helps, don’t get me wrong ... but in the whole scheme of things, we’d like to see the sustainability program get quite a bit bigger,” said Jeff Simpson, marketing manager of GSR.
This is the first year GSR has been eligible to receive the grant. Simpson is still unsure about what specifically the money will go toward. However, it will be some sort of track infrastructure project, he said.
“Whatever the province can do to help the shortlines upgrade their track, and keep as much track and service as possible, they’re going to see big benefits from it in the long run,” Simpson added. Shortlines were initially established to help accommodate local farmers by providing them with a shorter, faster and more convenient way to haul their grain to market.
Local meat business honoured for excellence
BY KEN GOUSSEAU SOUTHERN ALBERTA NEWSPAPERS
A Medicine Hat area business won several awards for its meat products at a March convention in Edmonton. Medicine Hat Meat Traders was
awarded a gold medal for its beef jerky, in addition to capturing five bronze medals for its sausages and cured hams at the convention, sponsored by the Alberta Food Processors Association. Medicine Hat Meat Traders is a family- owned business run by Greg and Joanne Pahl and their children Jackson, Grace and Ben. “It’s a nice feeling,” Greg said about winning the awards. “This is a reaffirmation of what we’re doing.” For the past four years, the Pahls have
been raising and processing their own all-natural beef and pork, at their family farm 10 kilometres northeast of Medicine Hat.
After selling their products at the local farmers’ market for several years, Medicine Hat Meat Traders opened a retail store in the city in December at 699 Kingsway. “We’re going to miss the farmers’ market. We love it, but we need to focus on something that’s year-round,” explained Joanne, who says sales at the new store have been steadily increasing. “My farmers’ market following followed me down here,” Joanne said with a laugh. Greg said his secret for making award- winning meat products is simple: “We take the extra time.”
The Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) is recruiting students for Fall ‘10
SUNTEP is a four year accredited Bachelor of Education program, offered by the Gabriel Dumont Institute in conjunction with Saskatchewan Learning and the University of Regina.
• SUNTEP offers smaller classes, tutoring and counseling support, accessible instructors and on-campus location
• Specializations are Reading/Language Arts, Cross Cultural Education and Indigenous Studies
Deadline date for applications is May 1st
For more information or applications, contact SUNTEP Regina CW 227, U of R
3737 Wascana Parkway
Regina, SK S4S 0A2 306-347-4110
1st 2nd 3rd
Draw Date: Saturday, June 19th , 2010
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• Medicine Hat Mall Lottery Booth • Levinson’s Music
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Tickets available by calling the Moose Lodge Offi ce at (403) 527-3227 or available at these locations:
• Co-op Grocery Stores
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Friday,April 23, 2010 - PRAIRIE POST - 11
Shortline railways get provincial grant
Shortline railways in southwest Saskatchewan received some much-needed funding from the provincial government to help replace infrastructure.
Now, other benefits such as reduced truck traffic on provincial highways are saving the province further repair and maintenance costs. “Shortlines are important because they help link Saskatchewan’s export-based economy to provincial, national and worldwide markets. They also contribute to reducing truck traffic congestion and related road wear,” said Jim Reiter, minister of highways and infrastructure in a press release last week. Also, shortline railways bring near incomparable support to their communities by providing jobs, paying
taxing, and buying parts and fuel all on an entirely local level. “Every time a shortline starts up over an abandoned railway track, it really revives the communities. You know, we put a lot back into the communities that we service,” Simpson said. All in all, SRSP is a positive and essential step in assisting the shortlines and communities it supports. Last year alone, GWR spent nearly $750,000 on fuel costs and GSR spent $400,000 on track repair, so “this sustainability money, even though like I say it’s getting less every year, is still a great help to us,” Gadd said.
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