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Editorial: Never say no to a chance to share our story

An editorial on the upcoming Innovation Conference slated for Sept. 23-24.
Boundary Dam exterior pic
The CCS facility at the Boundary Dam Power Station.

For the second straight year, Estevan is going to try to host an innovation conference. 

We certainly hope it will proceed.

Last year’s conference was scuttled weeks before it was scheduled to happen, thanks to the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve now been living without COVID-19 restrictions for the better part of six months, and we’ve had some pretty big events happen in the community, so COVID-19 won’t be the reason if the conference, scheduled for Sept. 23 and 24, disappoints. 

We hope this event will be a big success. It looks pretty good. A celebration of the different advancements that Estevan has made in various industries in the province. A banquet with a keynote address from former Estevan resident Jeff Sandquist, who recently left his high-ranking post with Microsoft. And a Start-up Pitch Launch, in which entrepreneurs will share their business ideas.

It looks like Sept. 23-24 will be a pretty busy couple of days in the community.  

When we get the opportunity to share our story, we need to capitalize on it every chance we get.  

When talking about innovation, the first thing that pops into the minds of many in the Estevan area will be the carbon capture and storage facility at the Boundary Dam Power Station. And deservedly so. Since it came online nearly eight years ago, it has kept more than 4.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. 

Has it encountered challenges, even in the past year? Yes. But we’re seeing what it’s capable of when it’s online, and it’s been online a lot in the past five months. 

However, innovation doesn’t need to be limited to billion-dollar mega projects that keep hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Sometimes innovation can be a simple idea that helps a business operate better, curb its emissions or boost its output.  

And perhaps it is something that is sold to other buisnesses, improving their bottom line. 

We have a lot of those people in the oil and gas sector, agriculture and mining. Some ideas pan out. Others won’t. But there are a lot out there who deserve a chance.

We can use human ingenuity and creativity to come up with ideas that will improve the environment and fight climate change. We don’t need a tax or a price on pollution or any of the other terms that politicians have used. Human ingenuity and investment will carry the day, not taxes.

Earlier this year, Estevan was selected as a Smart 21 Community for 2022 by the Intelligent Community Forum, the first time that has ever happened for a Saskatchewan city. These are communities in the digital age that use innovation to find a new path to economic development and overall growth.

And as we face the challenges associated with an uncertain future in many industries, we need to promote ourselves as much as possible, and try to bring as many people here as we can. 

We’re still waiting on billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk – a former Saskatchewan residents and champion of CCS – to respond to Mayor Roy Ludwig’s offer to come to Estevan and tour our world-leading CCS facility.  

It’s unlikely it’ll happen, but the publicity that we received for CCS and other industries here was great. And it opened the door to talk about other innovations that we have happening in our backyard. 

We can all share our story, regardless of whether we just moved here, we’ve lived here many years or all of our lives, or we have left the community. Let as many people know as possible about the great advancements that are taking place here that can benefit the world.

We have a story worth sharing, and events like the Innovation Conference next month provide that opportunity. So hopefully it will be well supported.