© Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy
Mayor Deb Higgins is seen at the May 20, 2014 council meeting.
The Mosaic Place debate has been ongoing among residents for five years.
“It’s been a contentious project right from its early beginnings,” said Mayor Deb Higgins. “I think as the facilities have proven themselves to be great additions to the community, those (negative) views have softened somewhat.
“I think in some aspects it will always be a little bit contentious but I guess in many cases that’s the way it is with big projects.”
She said Mosaic Place and YaraCentre are important parts of the “new Moose Jaw” as they are new facilities with economic and residential growth.
“Who would’ve thought half the events we’ve had at Mosaic Place would’ve been here 10 years ago?” said Higgins. “You know, we never would’ve dreamed about the Scotties coming to Moose Jaw or the Canada Cup of Curling or the Telus Cup. I mean it’s great.”
Last week, the majority of council voted to allocate the remaining $510,623 in the Mosaic Place and YaraCentre contingency fund in a capital reserve for future upgrades to the facilities.
“I think of myself as a fairly practical person and I know with the latest discussion about the half a million dollars that is left over in the fund, I mean here we are (with) a major project that came in $2 million under budget, but that being said the money has come from a variety of sources,” said Higgins. “It's always been a partnership project in my view.”
Those sources include the provincial government, federal government, donors in the city and the City of Moose Jaw. She said council discussions on the subject came up when they were aware of the surplus. The majority of council voted to leave it with the facility since the money was earmarked for the facility from a number of sources.
The discussion came up again when the unused half a million was available in the project. The majority of councillors voted to leave it in the reserve for Mosaic Place.
“Each of us as city councillors could probably think of a dozen ways to spend money on different projects within the city, big and small, but part of the problem that we’re facing right now with infrastructure in the city is that we weren’t dedicating the money to it that we should be,” said Higgins.
“Absolutely everything that the city has needs to be maintained, it needs to be updated. There will be ongoing cost to anything within the city and that’s the same with Mosaic Place and YaraCentre … If the money was raised for those projects, leave it with those projects and it will just be beneficial in the years to come.”
Work will need to be done at the facilities in the future, such as replacing turf at YaraCentre. Having the money available in a reserve gives the facilities a “very bright future” for proper maintenance and upkeep.
“I just feel that going forward, we need to be putting in place better planning for the out years and for the long-term needs of infrastructure here in the city, continue to work on the needs that are there,” said Higgins. “That will be ongoing, but I think we need to be smarter with the resources that we do have and utilizing them with long-term goals in mind. It’s all about sustainability.”
She added it is part of human nature to place more importance on problems that are visible and closest to people, such as roads, sidewalks and underground facilities. While driving around Wednesday morning, she said sidewalks were being replaced and roads were being repaired.
“I understand where people come from with their comments,” said Higgins. “They may put a different priority on problems that we have, but I think it is important for council to have that long-term vision and long-term view for success in this city.”
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.