It appears people in Estevan are ramping up the pressure on the provincial government to get some financial support for the community in this time of uncertainty.
The City of Estevan met with the provincial government last week. Mayor Roy Ludwig and economic development co-ordinator Dwight Bramble spoke MLA Lori Carr and a couple of members of Trade and Export Development, including Minister Jeremy Harrison.
Both sides will tell you the meeting went well. The provincial government has indicated previously that it won’t be providing money to the city, claiming it’s incumbent on the federal government to supply relief for Estevan as this city ventures into the murky waters of moving away from coal.
The Estevan Chamber of Commerce has taken an aggressive approach by encouraging people in the community to send in letters to several different provincial representatives, including Premier Scott Moe, Harrison and Carr, who is the minister of Highways and Infrastructure.
The chamber’s message is clear: they want more from the province, not just in terms of support but in terms of representation. Whether it’s successful or not has yet to be seen, but there’s never anything wrong with delivering a strong, unified and articulate message to the government.
The provincial government should be bringing money to the table. This was the region that was driving so much of the government’s economic prosperity in the boom years.
Hospitals, schools, roads and other amenities were built on the strength of the southeast energy sector. We saw lots of investment down here in the boom, but many will tell you we did not get our fair share.
Now we’re in one of the most challenging times in our community’s history. It’s time for the province to step to the plate.
The province will say it’s a federal issue. And we’re finding ourselves in this situation because the federal government fast-tracked the phase out of conventional coal power from 2042 to 2030.
(We’ll see if those dates changes should the Conservative Party win the 2019 federal election).
But we’re also finding ourselves in this situation because the provincial government decided to retire Units 4 and 5 at the Boundary Dam Power Station, ensuring that they will be taken offline by the end of 2024, regardless of who is running the country.
If Units 4 and 5 were to have been retrofitted, they wouldn’t have been affected by the 2030 deadline.
And if the province steps forward with money for Estevan, then hopefully it will give the feds more incentive to give us more support.
The $5 million the city is looking for is likely just a fraction of what we will need. It might seem like a lot, but our needs moving forward will dwarf $5 million.
The good news is that people are taking action now. They’re not waiting for 2021, when Unit 4 is scheduled to come offline, or 2024,, when Unit 5 is slated to come offline. (Those dates are, of course, contingent on getting an equivalency agreement between the provincial and federal governments).
We can’t afford to wait for 2021, or 2024, or even 2020 to take action. The more areas we move on now, the better off we’ll be.
And it’s important for people to join this fight. Sign these letters that the chamber has created for the provincial government. Tell the Saskatchewan Party that we believe we should be getting money to help us through this transition.
Let them know we’re not happy.
Take time to send a message.