WEYBURN – The activities, goals and accomplishments of the City and RM of Weyburn were shared with members of the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce, at a breakfast meeting held Thursday morning at the Weyburn Legion Hall.
Reeve Norm McFadden told the Chamber that construction began the week before on their new offices in Weyburn, using local contractors.
“It’s something that’s been long overdue, in my mind. Our current location was built about 40 years ago, and it was for one person. We currently have three people in the building and they’re running out of room,” he said, adding they’re building for the future.
This new office will have six offices, the council chambers, and a meeting room that can be used by local non-profit groups, including with their own access door.
The RM hopes to be in their new home by this fall, if the construction goes well this year, said the reeve.
The other big project for the RM is they are adding a second sand seal on the Nickle Lake access road, which should be the last step for a dust-free, gravel-free access road to the regional park.
McFadden noted the RM benefitted from the new passing lanes built onto Highway 39, as it resulted in a new access point off the highway.
“With gas prices going the way they’re going, the biggest issue will be costs. It’s going to be a challenging year to be able to do what we’re doing, day in and day out, for the same amount of money,” said the reeve.
One thing they did to streamline operations last year was to reduce their fleet of graders from three down to two, and to contract a third grader when needed. At the end of the summer, the cost to contact the grader was about $30,000, including fuel, wages and grader blades, and it ran on average about two and a half days a week.
The reeve also noted that the RM has created a recreation fund, out of which they fund their rec agreement with the City, as well as making donations to the Weyburn Golf Course and Nickle Lake Regional Park, both of which are in the RM.
In his speech, Mayor Roy began by admitting he’s a lot more cynical now than when he began as mayor, and pointed to some facts he gleaned from a book put out by SUMA. Among those facts is the dramatic shift of costs to the local municipality from the government, and he used the local example of the City of Weyburn selling its power plant to the province in return for getting a royalty payment of $1.54 million a year.
The government later took away that payment, saying it wasn’t fair to other municipalities that weren’t getting it. Mayor Roy said other mayors in the Mayors Caucus don’t speak up against the government about things like this, because of the message they get that they could lose funding, or funding opportunities, if they spoke up.
The mayor said for Weyburn, they had a really good year last year, but doesn’t know what the coming year holds with rising fuel costs, and rising costs for producers, such as for fertilizer.
“You as a chamber need to be read. Oil is going to start rising,” he said, predicting it may not be out of the question to see the price of oil climbing as high as $300 a barrel.
Weyburn is well-situated in the southeast for both oil to see a resurgence, and for the price of commodities like wheat to go up as well, he said.
Mayor Roy noted that there is ongoing work to improve the sewage system and the water treatment system, along with doing valve replacements, plus the city will be receiving a pothole machine this year which will mean no more cold mixes to fix potholes, but hot asphalt.
“We’re working on our lift stations. These are not small repairs, these are million-dollar repairs. It’s not changing a $20 valve,” he said.
The mayor said the chamber and its member businesses are going to have challenges upcoming, and with the skyrocketing price of gas, people won’t necessarily be running to Regina for shopping but will be doing it here.
He also noted the City has a good and stable relationship with the RM, and will continue to work together on various projects.