WEYBURN – The municipalities around the City of Weyburn should get together to create a “Greater Weyburn Area” for more economic activity and power, said Mayor Marcel Roy in his speech to the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
He spoke at the Chamber’s annual meeting and President’s Luncheon at the Weyburn Legion, along with Reeve Norm McFadden from the RM of Weyburn.
In his speech, Reeve McFadden noted that work on twinning will begin some time later this year on Highway 39 in the Weyburn area with the paving to be next year, and then work on the round-about will be done afterward at the intersection of Highways 39 and 13.
The Weyburn Chamber held their first board election in many years, with two candidates vying for a board vacancy, Ryan Swayze and Ryan Skjerdal, with Skjerdal getting the nod from Chamber members.
In the mayor’s speech to the Chamber, he said some of the experts he’s been reading and listening to are saying that globalization is coming to an end, and China and the U.S. won’t be as dominant on the world stage as they have been to this point.
Referring to one recent speaker, Doug Griffiths, who spoke of the communities around Edmonton combining to create the Greater Edmonton Area, Mayor Roy said this needs to happen here in the Weyburn area.
“How would we do this? We have to have great cooperation between chambers, economic development, the Radvilles, Milestones and Halbrites. That is the vision that I see, a Greater Weyburn Area,” said the mayor. “Together, we can be very, very strong. We might have to lose a little bit of our individualism, but we have so much here with crops, oil is going again, we can have such an economic powerhouse.”
He noted the provincial government feels this province is going to have the biggest economic boom of the last 40 years.
“Saskatchewan is going to be powerful, and we can be powerful here in the southeast also, if we embrace this idea of a Greater Weyburn Area. I leave that challenge with you people,” said the mayor.
Reeve McFadden noted the RM moved into their new office on Nov. 24 last fall, and they later found out this was the exact day the RM had moved into their previous office 42 years ago.
“It wasn’t planned, but during the move we came across a registry book, and that’s when we found about the date. It was meant to be,” said the reeve.
On the business side, he noted UFA began construction last spring, and they are now up and running as a business.
“To echo Marcel’s words, the RM is doing our utmost to attract new businesses to the area. We have a five-year plan, and we’ve made it easier and cheaper for businesses to get started. That’s how we’re going to attract people to come here. The costs of construction is going through the roof, so we have to do what we can to make it easier,” said Reeve McFadden.
The RM has also rolled out civic addresses, so every farm and residence will have the equivalent of a street address. In the future, when the addresses are inputted to a GPS, it can give you the exact location where they are in the RM.
Two contentious ongoing initiatives are to have a gopher bounty, and more recently, a coyote bounty, to deal with the high numbers of those animals on farm land. The reeve admitted these bounties aren’t popular with everyone, “but we have a really big issue with them. … It’s getting quite bad.”
One project they have also introduced was to deal with the tax ratio, which he noted was a hot topic at SARM. Some RMs have a 20:1 ratio, meaning businesses pay 20 times the level of taxes as residences. In the RM of Weyburn, the ratio is down to 1.4 to 1, said the reeve, noting the province is aiming for a 9:1 ratio.
“We’re way below that. We want to have more businesses,” he said.
Reeve McFadden finished with best wishes to Coun. Dick Michel on his stepping down from city council.
“He was a guy I could always phone for advice. He would listen, and he was a voice of reason,” said the reeve. “When we made the decision for a new office, it was contentious for our council. He was the first one to reach out to me, and said they went through the same thing when they made the move to the old post office building.”