Opinion: Energy companies contributions to communities are invaluable, and should be appreciated

For the most part, elected officials do a good job, but sometimes you have to wonder what they are thinking.

They have a tough job. They have to make some incredibly difficult decisions. Some of those decisions are emotional and go against what’s in their own best interests. And there are always the armchair council members in the community who will be slow to praise, but quick to criticize and even insult.

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Sometimes elected officials will make truly baffling, head-scratching decisions that will leave you questioning their common sense.

Such was the case last week when the City of Regina’s executive committee, which is comprised of all members of city council, voted in favour of an amended motion that would prevent the city from soliciting or accepting sponsorship or advertising from companies or organizations whose business is principally derived from the sale or production of fossil fuels.

The amended motion passed 7-4. It should be noted that new Regina Mayor Sandra Masters voted against the motion. Also among the four dissenters is former Estevan resident Terina Shaw, who is in her first term as the councillor for Ward 7, and likely knows a thing or two about the value of the energy sector, thanks to her time down here.

In essence, the amendment, put forward by Ward 6 Councillor Dan LeBlanc, would put these energy companies in the same boat as pornography businesses and tobacco companies, among others.

The oil and gas sector, of course, is the No. 2 industry in the province, and of far greater use to Saskatchewan than tobacco companies.

The decision has drawn the angry response that one would expect for its absurdity. Premier Scott Moe seemingly threatened to withhold the millions of dollars the City of Regina receives from SaskPower and SaskEnergy through the municipal surcharge.

Many people who reside in southeast Saskatchewan and other areas that rely on the energy sector have talked about a boycott of Regina businesses if this motion is allowed to pass.

Estevan city council took the step to issue a news release voicing their support for the oil and gas sector, and even passed a similar motion at their first meeting of the year Monday night. Granted, we all know that Estevan city council supports the energy sector, but it was still a nice gesture by our council.

(Note to members of Regina city council: if any of you need a lesson about the value of the energy sector, you might want to call one of the several Estevan council members who have worked in the energy sector for a number of years).

There’s also the impact this motion could have on confidence from the oil and gas companies towards Regina. Why would they want to invest in Regina after this? Why would those already there want to stay when the majority of council members said the city doesn’t want their money? 

Maybe the elected officials in Regina who voted against the energy sector should do their research and find out just how generous energy companies really are.

We don’t have an energy company’s name attached to Affinity Place (they are attached to other buildings and attractions in the city), but the oil companies and the mines contributed big money to the construction of Affinity Place 10 years ago. Affinity Place would be nowhere near the facility it is today without the energy companies.

And while the energy sector is nowhere as strong as it was 10 years ago, you can be sure that the energy companies will be there to support the new naming rights campaign for Affinity Place and other recreation facilities in the city.

Not only do oil and gas companies, and mining companies, create jobs and provide a valuable service and constantly adapt to be more environmentally friendly, but they support the communities where they operate.

Of course, the timing for this motion sucked. It came the same day in which new U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order that effectively killed the Keystone XL pipeline.  

While we all knew that Biden would eventually squash the project, it was still a blow for the energy sector in this province – an industry that already has taken a lot of blows in the last 6 1/2 years.

Ultimately, we’ll see on Jan. 27 whether Regina’s council sticks with this motion, or bows to public pressure and reverses course.

Hopefully they’ll flip-flop. The city of Regina stands to lose too much if council members hold firm.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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