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No referendum for Estevan's downtown revitalization project

A special meeting of Estevan city council was held Wednesday afternoon.
A conceptual design of how Fourth Street in downtown Estevan could look.

ESTEVAN - There will not be a referendum in Estevan regarding the downtown revitalization project. 

Estevan city council held a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon to go over the sufficiency report on a petition created by the Concerned Citizens Estevan SK group. The petition called for a referendum on the revitalization project, which covers the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Fourth Street. 

According to a report submitted by city clerk Judy Pilloud, the petition had 1,491 signatures lines, which exceeded the 1,085 required for a referendum to occur. The petition needed to have signatures of at least 10 per cent of the citizens; according to the 2021 federal census, the city of Estevan's population was 10,851 people. 

The report went on to say signature entries were excluded for a variety of reasons. A total of 140 addresses were incomplete, incorrect or were not within the city limits. Also, 273 entries did not have signature dates which could be confirmed as occurring after March 13, which was the date of the petition's first signature. Sixty-two entries did not have a legible, printed name signature. 

One entry, according to the report, had "Estevan" as their signature line, and one had two signatures on one line. Three entries did not have a witness, and five individuals signed the petition twice, for 10 more entries that were excluded.

"Four hundred and eighty-five entries on the petition were determined to be non-compliant with the act [The Cities' Act] and were excluded in my count," the report stated.

It left 1,006 entries on the petition, below the 1,085 mark, so council was not required to take further notice of it. Council accepted Pilloud's report. 

A large crowd attended the late-afternoon meeting, with representatives of the Concerned Citizens and the Estevan Downtown Business Association present. 

Earlier this year, the federal government granted the City of Estevan $7.75 million for revitalization of the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Fourth Street, through PrairiesCan's Canada Coal Transition Initiative. The commitment from the feds came roughly 23 months after the city held consultation meetings about the project. 

Council approved the revitalization project at its March 11 meeting. The city has committed to replacing the underground infrastructure in the affected areas of Fourth Street as part of the revitalization work. Members of the Concerned Citizens and the Downtown Business Association were at the March meeting.

Two days after council approved the project, the petition calling for the referendum started circulating the community.

Members of the Concerned Citizens appeared before Estevan city council at the April 8 meeting. The following day, Concerned Citizens' member Greg Curtis delivered the petition to city hall. The city had 30 days to verify the petition after it was submitted. 

The petition hasn't prevented work on the project from starting. ASL Paving has been selected as the general contractor, trees along the affected blocks of Fourth Street have been removed, and work has started on the undergrounds in the 1100-block of Fourth Street. The city has been working on valve replacements in the 1000-block of Fourth Street. and the Mercury will have more on this story.