There are early indications that Estevan is heading directly into another banner year of economic and population growth. This growth will fall hard on the heels of record-setting progress in 2008, only a slight cooling in 2009 before another outbreak of record activity this year.
Fuelled by the obvious continual big play in the sweet crude oil prone Bakken zone, and increasing needs for power to feed a quickly growing provincial economy, the Energy City is poised well, poised for something. We just hope it isn't a setback on the path we are currently pursuing.
With this growth in population and business, our civic structural teams have been hard-pressed to keep up. Keeping abreast of the unglamourous aspects of our development has not been easy, but it's being done.
Water, sewer, sidewalks, curbs, new roads, pavement for those new roads, and fresh pavement for the old roads, street lighting, property surveys and development, snow removal in winter and street cleaning in the summer, and so on and so on. These are the ditzy details that have to be tended to if the city is going to grow in an organized pattern.
Naturally the ratepayers have to absorb the bulk of the costs associated with this growth. Yes, we do have increasingly high utility rates to pay, but we can rest easy with the knowledge that our water source is safe and structured for growth and our sewage is being treated in state-of-the-art fashion and re-entering the environment as a reusable product. Our garbage is being collected and recycled efficiently. We are quite literally not dumping our problems onto someone else.
Properties are not cheap, but neither are our expectations. Equipment and materials to keep our streets cleaned, our trees and grass growing, and our pathways available and our residents safe from crime and disasters, takes money.
There is a transparency at City Hall that we can all appreciate. No one is hiding behind closed doors, or rocks, hoping that frustrated or concerned citizens will go away. We may not like the answers or responses we receive all the time, but at least there is an openness about the process that allows us to vent our frustrations and be heard, whether it be a visit, a phone call or a response to an open house event in which civic issues are to be discussed in a forum format.
Being one of the richest communities in Saskatchewan certainly helps foster this sense that progress is being made.
Some of us may lament the rapid disappearance of "the old Estevan as we once knew it," but we should also acknowledge that for decades we have lamented the fact that we've always had the tools and resources to make this city a provincial jewel and a pure pocket for growth, but it never really happened no matter how much we talked big about potential. Now that it has been happening over the past five years, we have to assess our current situation and say that while we can see weaknesses in the overall picture, we have to appreciate the manner in which this growth has been handled to date.
Sometimes we are so blinded by our unrelenting desire to point out things that are going wrong that we fail to see the things that are going right.