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RM of Estevan and Town of Bienfait receive millions in government funding for projects

Restoration of historical sites and resurfacing of roads to receive support.
Bienfait Locomotive support
PrairiesCan has announced support for projects in the Town of Bienfait and the RM of Estevan, including the restoration of this locomotive.

SOUTHEAST SASKATCHEWAN - The Town of Bienfait and the RM of Estevan have announced that they have received targeted infrastructure funding from PrairiesCan’s Canada Coal Transition Initiative-Infrastructure Fund to support the development and expansion of the regional economy.

PrairiesCan provides targeted funding investments that build on regional strengths and encourage innovation in communities in southeast Saskatchewan.

The Town of Bienfait received a contribution of $107,398 that will be used to repair and revitalize the tourism elements already in place in the town. The community has two significant tourism assets, and a press release for the announcement says both need repair and/or refurbishment.

The first is the Bienfait Coalfields Historical Society Museum, which is housed in the former CP Rail station that was built in 1907 and features a Canadian Legion, hospital rooms, a CPR office, a caboose and a one-room schoolhouse.

The second is the 1907 steam locomotive used by the Manitoba & Saskatchewan Coal Company (M&S) with a Canadian National Railway (CNR) caboose. The locomotive and caboose are a designated municipal heritage property.

Funds will be used in the train station/museum and schoolhouse for interior repairs or replacements of windows, walls, door frames and ceilings, and exterior repairs or replacements including the deck, front office awning, eavestroughs and fence repairs.

The 1907 steam locomotive engine, caboose and coal train require sandblasting and repainting; however, the caboose requires additional repairs to ensure it is safe for tourists and tour guides, including roof, chimney, floorboards, walls, and floor runner repairs and replacements.

The Town of Bienfait also plans to install interpretive signage at the museum and locomotive sites to provide detailed information about the history and significance of each asset and to locate an attraction sign on the highway to direct passing traffic to the tourism elements in the Town of Bienfait.

“Bienfait has a great history of coal mining and the locomotive (steam engine) on Main Street is a beautiful piece of history,” SSEP member at large Paul Carroll. “Also, the Bienfait Coalfields Historical Museum displays agriculture, coal, oil and other historic industries from the area. We, as a community, have an obligation to preserve that history and proudly today we can say that along with PrairiesCan, the long-needed restoration repairs to the locomotive and Bienfait Coalfields Historical Museum will be brought to fruition.”

Bienfait also received a contribution of more than $1.5 million that will be used for the construction of a new fire hall to ensure adequate fire protection for the town. The new fire hall will ensure adequate fire protection for the Town of Bienfait and the surrounding area in the RM of Coalfields, which includes the communities of North Portal, Frobisher, Roche Percée, Coalfields, Deborah, Hirsch, Pinto and Taylorton, and support future economic development activities.

 “Once again, Bienfait has worked diligently with PrairiesCan to fund a new and expanded fire hall,” said Bienfait Mayor Ken Bonokoski. “With the ever-increasing size of equipment and additional industries located nearby, the fire hall replacement timing is almost perfect.

“Currently, the municipality has been renting space to house the firefighting vehicles. With all of the equipment housed in the same building, it will increase the efficiency to prepare and respond to emergencies. The space will be utilized for maintenance, training and fire suppression growth for the municipality and the volunteer firefighters. Bienfait as well as surrounding municipalities shall benefit from the necessary improvement.”

The RM of Estevan was successful in obtaining two federal infrastructure contributions for paving projects within the RM. The first contribution of more than $1.3 million will upgrade and pave Kensington Avenue to the Estevan bypass to provide a direct link between the commercial and industrial businesses on the north side of Estevan and the truck bypass.

The RM of Estevan was also successful in receiving a federal infrastructure contribution of more than $2.6 million that will be used to develop and pave the two-kilometre section of Airport Road to support growth and development at the Estevan Regional Airport in the RM of Estevan.

Completion of this upgrade supports the expansion of current businesses and will support the attraction of new business to southeast Saskatchewan. Transitioning from a gravel road to a paved one would contribute to making the area more appealing to investors, thereby supporting economic development in the RM of Estevan, City of Estevan and surrounding region.

“The RM is extremely pleased to receive these infrastructure funds. These improvements will augment the development of the tourism and the logistic and distribution economic pillars set out by SSEP,” said RM of Estevan Division 4 Councillor James Trobert, who is also an SSEP committee member.

“Additionally, the improved paving infrastructure will give the RM of Estevan the ability to showcase its progress, sustainability and commitment to the growth of agriculture, business and industry. Specifically, paving the Grid 704 access from Highway 47 to the Estevan Regional Airport will further amplify the importance of the airport as a first-class facility in attracting new investment to this area of the province.

“Similarly, paving Kensington [Avenue] north will significantly upgrade the transportation network to service the needs of both current and future users of a very busy road in the RM of Estevan and promote future development along the Estevan Bypass and surrounding corridors.”

“On behalf of and along with the rest of the partners of the SSEP group, the RM of Estevan is very pleased and excited to have been the recipient of funds designated towards to significant infrastructure projects that will significantly enhance the economic pillars and drivers set out by SSEP,” said RM of Estevan Division 6 Councillor Steve Smith, who is also a committee member.

“The first project being the paving of part of Grid 704 east of Hwy 47 to Estevan’s municipal airport. This upgrade will strengthen current economic expansion as well assist in attracting future opportunities for expansion and enhancement of the current airport.

“The second project will be the paving of Kensington north to the by-pass. This particular road sees in excess of 1000 vehicles per day currently. With the possible expansion of both current and future businesses for RM No. 5 and the City of Estevan this new piece of infrastructure will complete an existing piece that will greatly enhance, support and attract these expansions.

“Both of these projects will greatly support the tourism trade for the area currently being developed by the SSEP group as well as support all existing ratepayers in the area by having newly paved infrastructure to travel on.”

Daniel Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, added, “Our government recognizes that communities in economic transition need support to revitalize and grow. That is why we are continuing to make investments in local priorities that ensure communities like Estevan and Bienfait have the necessary infrastructure to seize economic opportunities to help grow a sustainable and clean economy.”

Tim Keating, regional economic development director of SSEP, commented, “It’s great to see all of our hard work and efforts come to fruition. There has been significant time and effort put into these projects by our staff and committee members and we are thrilled to see these approvals come through to support key economic development infrastructure for the RM of Estevan and Town of Bienfait.

“We wish to thank PrairiesCan for their funding and support of these vital projects for our region and communities.”