How much more could we be? How much more should we be? What can be done to enhance the Energy City that is within the realm of reality?
The list of what we need is still rather extensive and does not include anything from a wish list.
It appears that wherever we look, we encounter some continual serious shortfalls in our city and region.
On the infrastructure front, the needs have been well documented in previous dissertations. Because of the nature of the work we do around here, this city requires over-built roads along our main thoroughfares. They need to be able to accommodate heavier and bigger than normal transport and equipment trucks. We mine coal and drill for oil around here, and we haul big things in and out and through here, so some day we should be willing to acknowledge that with the infrastructure answering that specific call because these rigs are not getting smaller.
Naturally we require a twinned highway between the U.S. border and Regina running through Estevan and Weyburn. Again, we point out the obvious. Numbers and conditions don't lie. Eventually the politicians will come to realize this and plan accordingly.
We require a heavy truck bypass around our city for economic, safety, health and social reasons. Again, government officials claim it's coming ... any decade now.
Housing is another major requirement. We have lots of $600,000 to $800,000 homes. We now require a few on a more modest scale and that would include rental units for the lower and middle income earners who are keeping this city open and operating.
Estevan seriously requires a focus on the health front with some pro-active sensibilities. Lean is one admirable thing, but what we require on the local health scene is not just more efficiency, but perhaps more equipment and people who know how to operate it. We refer, once again to the obvious ... a CT scanner that would make life so much easier for our medical community.
As the W.P. Kinsella adage goes,“build it and they will come.” Well, that reference works in the medical community too. It's difficult to recruit surgeons and skilled medical technicians if you have to go begging for a simple ultrasound machine let alone a CT scanner. These are items that should have been constants in the local medical community since 1995. We're still waiting for one and lost the other one temporarily for some unexplained reason. This is not acceptable for physicians, nurses, medical technicians or the community.
An upgrade in care for our seniors is being addressed with a commitment to build a new nursing home. We only hope it will be built to serve the future needs too.
On the social front, the Energy City needs not only a safe house, but also a harbour house for those who are temporarily without a residence or are transient. Making newcomers live in vehicles because we can't offer them a room for under $120 a night is bordering on uncaring and that's not Estevan.
On the educational side, the ducks appear to be in order, only because some previous school boards and administrators tended to the shortfall well before the major amalgamation took place. If they hadn't, this too, would be a sorry looking file. As it is though, those who are serving will have to give some serious thought to the quickly growing need to replace the Estevan Comprehensive School within the next 10 years. We hope this project has some better thinking behind it than what has gone into our highway twinning and truck bypass debacles. ECS is now in its 43rd year and the roof has been leaking for 42 years. It's fate is something that both school divisions will have to address within the next three to five years in order to get a project on the government's plate in time.
With our suburban areas growing by leaps and bounds, Estevan definitely needs a fleet of street sweepers to keep our byways clean ... after all, those huge rig movers and heavy equipment are not always clean, nor should we expect them to be.
We have a good green plan now. Our parks and green spaces are being provided on a growth pattern that matches the city's, but to keep them clean and tailored will require a lot of personnel and financial support from property owners. Again, a challenge we can meet.
Having said all this now, we simply reiterate ... our needs are many and we can't for an instance slow down or feel that we can “hold the line” when it comes to meeting our local obligations and reminding senior governments of their responsibilities when it comes to our community.
As we all well know, with the benefits of growth come significant responsibilities.