Each year represents a learning experience. We find out new things through the triumphs, the controversies and the tribulations we face.
This past year was no different.
We realized, once again, the caring and generous nature of the this area, and our ability to respond to adversity following the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy in the spring.
It was a horrible tragedy that galvanized the country, and drew generosity from people around the world.
Adding to the situation locally was the strong local connection, with two former members of the Power Dodge Estevan Bruins, Darcy Haugan and Mark Cross, among those killed in the crash.
This tragedy brought out the best in so many of us. Whether it was lining up for a considerable period of time to purchase food from a restaurant holding a fundraiser for the Broncos, or donating to a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $15 million, or purchasing a large number of 50-50 tickets during a fundraiser, local residents showed their support for the families of those aboard the bus.
We also had a reminder of just how much interest Estevan has for the Bruins. Local fans were starved for a winner, as the Bruins went 19 years between appearances in the SJHL final. But they turned out in droves for the club’s playoff run, with sold-out crowds of 2,662 spectators for each of the three league final games against the Nipawin Hawks.
We also saw the dedication of curling volunteers. Twice. Estevan hosted the SaskTel Tankard men’s provincial tournament last winter, and thanks to the success of that event, Estevan also hosted the Home Hardware Canada Cup in December.
The latter showed Estevan’s ability to host a national-calibre event.
We also learned more about the future we might not want. The provincial government’s decision to not retrofit Units 4 and 5 at the Boundary Dam Power Station, coupled with the federal government’s desire to get rid of conventional coal power sooner rather than later, have many in this community dreading what the future could look like.
We’re learning that the means that have brought prosperity to Estevan in the past might not bring prosperity in the future.
On a related note, we saw the level of frustration locally with the federal government continued to escalate. We all know that residents of southeast Saskatchewan are not fond of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. We knew those feelings long before Trudeau was elected in 2015.
But the Yellow Vest Movement protests that occurred in late December were another example of many local residents’ disdain for Trudeau II. Estevan is one of a number of communities in Western Canada to have a Yellow Vest protest; but the best example of the frustration levels came when 427 trucks, spanning 15 kilometres, rolled through Estevan Dec. 22.
It was a strong, resounding statement that local residents want nothing to do with Trudeau or his carbon tax.
And we learned how serious the oil price differential is between Western Canada Select and West Texas Intermediate, and that it’s not going to be resolved until more oil gets to market. Our economy will continue to suffer until the differential is resolved.
Yet despite the uncertain future, we were reminded of the generosity of the people of the community. For example, the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation had record support for the Festival of Trees, while the United Way Estevan came so close to setting (another) off-air record for its annual fundraising telethon.
We also learned that no matter how much people want to save a hockey arena, it’s not necessarily going to happen. The venerable 60-year-old Civic Auditorium met its demise in the spring, a few months after the City of Estevan found out it wasn’t going to receive the insurance coverage it coveted to keep the old rink open.
The demolition was an emotional time for a lot of people, who wanted to see the rink spared for at least a few more seasons.
We’re still waiting to find out what the city will do to replace the rink.
Yes, it’s been an interesting year. We have enjoyed bringing the stories of 2018 to you. And we hope we will continue to do so in the future.