Mayor Marcel Roy and Reeve Norm McFadden both see great things on the horizon for the Weyburn area, as they listed several projects that have begun or will be on the way this year.
They were the guest speakers for the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting on Wednesday, held via Zoom.
Mayor Roy said he has a “very optimistic view” with commodity prices doing well right now for both oil and agriculture.
With oil prices staying above $60 a barrel for the past while, there are more people getting back to work again, including with the well abandonment program.
With recent conversations with the chamber’s new executive director, Larry Heggs, the mayor said the mayors caucus would like to urge chambers of commerce to push the province to go back to supporting the film industry again. He pointed out how, as an example, Ghostbusters 3 had initially looked at Saskatchewan for production, but when it was found there were no tax incentives available here for that industry, they moved production to Alberta.
Roy also noted in discussions with Heggs that the issue of tenders came up, and he suggested the chamber could be doing more to help local companies with tenders, whether for the City or around the province.
“Every now and then we see missed things for tenders and people are disqualified. It would help our local businesses so they’re not missing out on things. The City really wants to shop local,” said Mayor Roy.
One potential for development is that CP Rail has recently announced they are working on an acquisition of the Kansas City Railway, and this could potentially provide a way for Canadian products to have a direct route for shipping to the U.S. and Mexico.
In relation to that, the new Weyburn Industrial Transload facility “is going to be a fabulous business. … I think Weyburn is really set for some heavy duty expansion, if we can hone in and jump in on these things.”
He noted that city council recently passed a lower commercial mill rate for businesses as a way to help out local businesses.
“We want to send the message out that the business community is front of mind all the time. Some people out there are suffering, and we understand that, and we’re trying our best to work through that,” said the mayor.
He noted the new Credit Union Spark Centre will bring a lot of families in to the city, with many amenities being built in from the indoor soccer field and play area to the outdoor hockey rink with a Zamboni to keep the ice in good shape.
Reeve McFadden said there have been a number of recent projects, such as the new septic receiving station which was constructed last year and should be operational shortly, and the Weyburn Industrial Transload facility, which can both ship commodities in and ship them out from this area by rail.
He noted the WIT facility had their first rail cars come in December of 2020, and they have been moving product out ever since.
The reeve also noted two solar projects are looking to start soon in the RM, with one to be built this year by the company Natural Forces, and a second project looking to build on the east side of Highway 39. He said they might get some preliminary work done this year, looking to be in operation by 2022.
A company has also set up some data towers as they study the potential for setting up wind turbines in this area, said the reeve, and a company, Independent Energy, is looking into the possibility of a micro-refinery just south of the Weyburn Industrial Transload location.
“The last we heard is there could be dirt work by the end of this year, but we’ll wait and see with that one,” said Reeve McFadden.
In Evanston Park, a business owner has set up the All Sports Training Facility in a building, and he has been averaging about 700 children a month, training for a variety of sports like soccer, lacrosse, cricket, hockey and baseball.
On another front, Viterra is in the process of expanding with a rail loop at their location on Highway 39, which should increase their capacity for moving grain.
The RM is also in the process of developing a new office, as they have bought a building on First Avenue, and they are currently in the process of doing a design.
“Our current office is over 40 year old, and we’ve simply outgrown it,” said Reeve McFadden, adding this project will not increase the tax load for ratepayers. “Every aspect of the construction phase will be done by local companies, from the city or RM.”
The reeve also spelled out a tax incentive program to help attract new business development to the RM. The five-year program will exempt 100 per cent of taxes for the first two year, then 75 per cent in year 3, 50 per cent in year 4 and 25 per cent in year 5.
“We really feel this is a good step forward in attracting businesses and jobs,” he added.