The City of Weyburn moved forward on a number of major projects this year, said Mayor Marcel Roy, and signs are positive for the coming year in 2020, in spite of the sagging economy in the province right now.
In a year-end interview, the mayor noted that the City finished off the Government Road project, including new pavement on the portion that had major water and sewer line work done, plus progress has been made on the construction projects for the new elementary school and the City’s new $25 million Weyburn Recreation and Culture Centre on Fifth Street.
Construction on those projects will continue through 2020, with the opening of both facilities set for September of 2021.
Another major project was completed in 2019, namely the new 13-million litre water reservoir, bringing the total storage capacity for the water treatment plant to 20 million litres, with a project total cost of $15.9 million.
The mayor noted that Weyburn also received another major ranking from a national magazine, this time by Maclean’s magazine, which ranked Weyburn as the best place to live on the Prairies and 45th overall in Canada.
“It gives us national exposure, and the magazine does this with their own list of criteria,” said Mayor Roy.
Positive factors cited by the magazine included a low unemployment rate, good average housing prices, an agriculture-based and oil-based local economy, and lots of amenities for those raising a family.
Weyburn is also the regional centre for the southeast, added Mayor Roy, with the head offices of both the Southeast Cornerstone and Holy Family school divisions and Southeast College based here, plus regional offices for the Sask. Health Authority, as examples.
Mayor Roy is holding out hope that the long-awaited new acute-care hospital will be on its way to Weyburn, although he noted Prince Albert is also being promised one, and Weyburn split a $5 million fund with P.A. for planning in the spring budget.
“Although the city is part of the development for the hospital, it’s the provincial government who will be building the hospital,” said Mayor Roy, who pointed out that the Hospital Foundation here has done their fundraising work towards the cost of the new facility, while P.A. hasn’t.
In the coming year, the mayor said there will be a lot of sidewalk projects done, and more infrastructure work, along with new welcoming signs at the entrance points to the city, and a replacement of the works shop, to replace the historic round house in the public works yard.
“These are some of the biggest projects the city has had in the last 20 years or so,” said Mayor Roy, of the projects done in 2019 and yet to come in 2020.
The council has been working on the budget, and the mayor said as of the time of the interview, the expectation was for a tax increase of around three per cent.
“It was a somewhat tough budget,” he said. “Every budget is tough, because we don’t know how much money the province is giving us.”
He added the city council is “budgeting differently than we did in the past. Usuallly they would wait for the provincial budget in May and go from there. Now, we do the budget earlier so we can get tenders out for projects for the year.”
The hope is that by getting tenders and requests for proposal out early, they can get the best prices, and have contractors lined up to do the projects this year rather than hope they can do the projects later in the year.
The City also was part of the Weyburn Region Transportation Study, along with the RM of Weyburn and the Regional Planning Commission, with an information session held for the public on Oct. 29. The plan will help ensure the city and RM can develop a road network that can safely handle the traffic of the area generated by regional growth and development.
This is also an election year, with the municipal elections bumped to November as the provincial election is set for October.
“I look forward to it,” said the mayor, who is planning to make another run for the mayor’s chair.
Overall, while there are challenges in the local economy, such as in the oil and gas sector, “we still have lots of optimism in the future of the community.”