Skip to content

Editorial: Estevan … the Innovation City

An opinion on Estevan's potential to become a tech hub.
Estevan Water Tower 2022

We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about innovation and technology in the community.

It’s nothing new for us. When you think about it, innovation has long been part of Estevan. It’s the reality of living in an industry-driven community with plenty of entrepreneurs who think outside of the box.

Innovation doesn’t have to be something grandiose that changes the world. Sometimes it can be something relatively simple that improves efficiencies or operations within a business or an industry.

There are a lot of people in the southeast oilpatch or the agriculture sector who encountered a problem, thought of how it could be addressed, found a solution through technology and applied it. It’s not necessarily something that they marketed. It might not have advanced beyond their shop or their farm. But it’s still innovation.

Then there are those who have come up with something that they have been able to market, make a difference to their industry and make a little money in the process.

We know about large-scale innovations down here. You can see it at the carbon capture and storage project at the Boundary Dam Power Station. It’s the first facility of its kind in the world. It has kept more than five million of carbon dioxide from entering the Earth’s atmosphere since October 2014. The captured CO2 is then sold for enhanced oil recovery.

Innovation at its finest. Economic and environmental benefits. Well worth investing in.

But there’s so much more to innovation and technology in our area than Boundary Dam. And with the uncertain future for some of our industries, innovation is going to play a valuable role in our future.

We’ve had a history of producing bright minds, too. We heard from one of them, Dr. Eric Grimson, earlier this month when he made his presentation at the Southeast College’s Estevan campus. Grimson is the chancellor for academic advancement at MIT, a campus that knows a thing or two (or more) about coming up with great ideas.

While he was here – the first time he has been home in more than 20 years – he expressed his belief that Estevan should do its best to become a technology hub and attract specialists. Of course, if that happens, we stand to gain.

"The industrial base is changing, from what I understand, dramatically. But I've seen other communities do this. I think if you're willing to take some risks and get support to do it, you have the ability to do it," he said in an interview with the Mercury.

Grimson isn’t the only one we’ve produced. We all know that Jeff Sanquist, the former vice-president of corporate at Microsoft and the current VP of product, community and growth for

Automattic, is originally from Estevan. So is Kirsten Marcia, the president and CEO of Deep Earth Energy Production, which has been working on Canada’s first geothermal facility southwest of the Energy City.

The Southeast Techhub is going to play an important role in the future of our community as well.

When you talk to Gord More, the head of the Techhub, you can see the zeal he has for the role and the ideas he has for how technology can benefit the community.

Yes, we’re facing some uncertain times, both now and in the not-too-distant future. We have options on how we can handle it. We could do nothing and let our city fade. We can wait for a change in government and hope that it results in legislation changes, but even if that happens, it will only push back some things that are inevitable.

Or we can use the intelligence that we have in our community and try to come up with new ways to preserve and build the city we love.

We’re an agriculture, coal and an oil and gas city. We should be immensely proud of that. But we should also continue to build on what we have through the ingenuity of the people we have here.