The Estevan Chamber of Commerce has issued recommendations for The Saskatchewan Plan for Growth: Vision 2020 and Beyond.
The list was developed after the government of Saskatchewan asked the chamber through Jeremy Harrison, minister of Trade and Export Development, to provide feedback on top priorities for building stronger economy and more successful communities.
The Estevan Chamber of Commerce focused on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology development, power generation within the province, the formation of a Saskatchewan Energy Centre for Estevan, export focus to include development and retention of local talent, a revamp of the property assessment process, water management and a boom-bust stability plan.
“The focus of this written submission was to highlight the areas that the chamber has been advocating for over the past several years plus a few new areas that could be a focus to better our local community and province,” said Estevan Chamber of Commerce executive director Jackie Wall in a media release.
In their submitted letter the chamber stresses that a stronger economy starts in the province with the greatest assets Saskatchewan has, namely people and natural resources. They pointed out that the province has what it takes to compete internationally including a diversity of exports that the world is demanding. However, there are assets that are not being developed to their full potential.
The chamber’s recommendations suggest that CCS that started in Estevan should receive deserved provincial and federal recognition, and Saskatchewan should continue its development.
The technology is beneficial not just for the City of Estevan, but also for all of Saskatchewan. First, it provides the advantage of moving coal generated power from fossil fuel generation to a carbon neutral power generation. Secondly, this technology can be used on natural gas power plants and will have to be developed in this area if provincial power generation is to avoid high carbon pricing penalties. “The proposed investment is far outweighed by the technological advances and financial savings it will generate,” the statement concludes, adding that the potential for the development of uses for the CO2 byproducts should not be overlooked.
The chamber also suggests focusing on renewable power.
“Saskatchewan has two amazing assets in wind and sun. Capitalizing on these assets and developing these technologies further should continue to be a focus. Importing hydropower from Manitoba may be an important way to secure low cost alternative renewable power but we must be cautious that it does not come at the cost of furthering innovation in our province and at a loss of Saskatchewan jobs. Energy for our province, should be supplied by our province with our province’s workforce.”
They also recommend the formation of a Saskatchewan Energy Centre in Estevan.
“We are the Energy City and are already, unofficially, the centre of energy production for our province. In our area, we have vast oil and gas production, coal production, the first large-scale geothermal project in our country, the first large scale CCS project in the world, some of the highest sunlight hours in our nation, and yeah, we’ve got wind. The Petroleum Technology Research Centre already does a lot of work in our area, we have an outstanding local college and we have an innovative community that is ready to take on this new challenge.”
Besides, the letter addresses the topic of exports, stating that the province needs to develop agri-food value added chain, improving farming and equipment technology, livestock food supplement development, animal breeding stock, plant genetics, chemical and fertilizer development and application processes and more.
“This development of industries that we know best also extends to the oil and gas sector, mining, forestry, and so many more. We have a multitude of core industries that we have built our province upon. We now need innovative programs to continue to develop them and export that to the world,” the statement says, pointing out that it’s important to also pay attention to emerging industries, and to try to attract and keep new talent in Saskatchewan.
Finally, the chamber advocates for the property assessment process changes, water management and development of a boom-bust community stability plan.
“Estevan should not be scraping together whatever means it finds available to try to come up with a self-guided plan for the future. There should be experts in place to consult with, best practices well documented to draw strategic plans from, and innovative quick start projects to initialize immediately. There should be a clear priority for that constituency’s member of the legislative assembly to make sure they have the time and resources available to assist their riding.”
The Estevan Chamber of Commerce recommendations will be used in the process of development of The Saskatchewan Plan for Growth: Vision 2020 and Beyond.
The full written recommendation list can be found on the Estevan Chamber of Commerce’s website.