A new year is a time for optimism and renewal – and here in Saskatchewan we see encouraging signs that our best days are still to come. Despite the challenges facing our energy sector, people continue to see Saskatchewan as a great place to live, work and invest.
In addition to the 16,000 new jobs over the past year, which gave us the best rate of job growth in western Canada, Saskatchewan grew by 3,841 people in the latest quarter. This represents the 50th consecutive quarter of population growth – the longest sustained period of population growth in Saskatchewan since quarterly records started being kept in 1971.
Saskatchewan’s record growth has strengthened our province and allowed your Saskatchewan Party government to make important investments to improve health, education, infrastructure, and the overall quality of life for all people who call Saskatchewan home.
There is always more to do. For example, we have heard that too many rural areas still have poor cellular coverage and slow internet service – so we’re working to fix that.
The Wireless Saskatchewan initiative is our plan to improve wireless services, with Phase 2 of that plan addressing 100 rural communities that had no cellular coverage or fringe service at best. The deployment of small cellular sites will improve the level of service by next year. High-speed internet and cellular connections are incredibly important to all of us, and this initiative will greatly benefit many residents, farms, and businesses who call rural Saskatchewan home.
The first 50 towers will be completed and operating by March 31, 2019 with remaining new small community towers functioning by March 31, 2020.
Meanwhile, major infrastructure investments continue in larger urban centres. The new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon, and The Regina Bypass are all on track to be completed later this year.
In addition to these major projects, our government recently announced a $9.6 million investment in major improvements to the Winnipeg Street overpass in Regina. The new overpass will significantly improve connections among the city’s major arterial roads, providing more efficient commutes and supporting the growth and development of our capital city. The investment in the Winnipeg Street overpass is part of more than $37 million in direct provincial infrastructure investments for key City of Regina projects in the last two years alone.
At the end of the holiday season, many of us are starting to plan – or at least think about – our summer getaways. Starting in April, visitors will be able to reserve campsites for in Saskatchewan provincial parks on a new and improved online reservation site. The upgraded site enhances the overall visitor experience and increase online services, such as seasonal bookings.
This year, seasonal campsites will be moved to the online reservation system. Due to high demand for seasonal sites, a queuing system will be used to ensure a fair process. For seasonal campsites, customers will only be able to book for one person in one campsite with one payment. Reservations for seasonal campsites will open Tuesday, April 2 at 7:00 a.m.
Group campsites will also be added to the online reservation system this year. Starting on Thursday, April 4, sites can be booked online year-round or through the call centre up until October. School and youth groups will continue to book by calling the parks directly.
Nightly reservations for 2019 campsites will open at 7:00 a.m. Monday, April 8. Staggered launch dates and a queuing system will be implemented again to help provide the best user experience possible during reservations.
For additional details on fees, and seasonal and group campsite reservations, visit www.saskparks.com.