YORKTON - It was what might be called ‘the mayor’s state-of-the-city’ address as Mayor Mitch Hippsley presented to a Yorkton Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday.
“I have lots to tell you,” began Hippsley, before pausing first to commend the Chamber.
“You are the heartbeat of Yorkton,” he said, before heading into his review of some of the major projects undertaken by the city since 2021, his last presentation to the organization.
To begin Hippsley noted that the average household in Yorkton pays $174 per month in taxes for all the services provided. The city receives $2,091 annually from that with school boards receiving $776, or the overall total of $2,867 paid annually.
Next Hippsley noted the city has been operating of late without having to take on huge debt. While the province has set a borrowing limit of $42 million for Yorkton, at present the debt is only $5.64 million.
The new city operations building did require borrowing $11 million, but was financed internally, and will be retired in about 7.5 years.
In terms of spending it was obvious everything costs money, and typically the costs are rising.
For example the mayor noted $1.1 million was allocated annually for street work, adding it has been suggested to Council “we should consider spending more because we’re getting behind.”
Another example of the high costs noted by Hippsley was an effort to replace faded signage in the city. The cost was $166,000.
In his presentation Hippsley also noted often projects have an element of improving community image and in so doing hopefully attract new business and visitors.
One such project was the Gateway Project on the city’s east side.
“It’s huge . . . It’s a first impression,” he said, adding because it welcomes people “ . . . we believe it’s great money spent.”
It help that the local YBID provided $150,000 toward the project, with another $350,000 from a MEEP grant, leaving only $400,000 from the city, added Hippsley.
Similarly, paved pathways at Logan Green – two kilometres – and new lighting creates a draw for Yorkton, Hippsley, even at a cost of roughly $1 million, although only $235,000 was from the city the remainder for the higher levels of government.
“It’s a real visionary statement on behalf of Council,” he said.
The $7.5 million being invested at Deer Park Gold Course -- $5 million for a new clubhouse, the remainder for associated work – is about more than golf, suggested Hippsley. He said the facility can now see broader usage, including having food services open year-round.
The tipi project at City Centre Park is also important in terms of community image and as an attraction too.
“It’s a real step forward in the matter of truth and reconciliation,” said Hippsley, adding the project was 90 per cent funded by the Yorkton Tribal Council. “They (YTC) are a great positive in growth.”
When it comes to growth Hippsley also noted the announced expansions of the Richardson and LDC canola crush facilities.
“This is a huge statement on their part when they make this sort of investment,” he said.