Saskatchewan relies heavily on the boom-and-bust cycles of the oil industry, but in the city of Swift Current, business is doing well despite the downturn in the economy.
“It’s a very strong [agricultural] sector here [that] managed to carry us through,” said Swift Current Mayor Dennis Perrault.
“Our entire economy remains stronger than most. Oil and gas are very important to us. I think the diversity [in our city] helped us remain strong,” added Swift Current community development director Marty Salberg.
“Housing prices remained strong, we still have an excess of 300 available jobs in our area [and] our unemployment rate is second lowest in the country.”
A big part of the city’s success is due to the construction of the Chinook Power Station, set to switch on by October 2019. The natural gas plant will be able to power a city the size of Saskatoon.
“It’s huge — it’s a $650 million project to make a combined cycle gas generation plant, power for SaskPower. What it’s ultimately going to mean is 400 temporary jobs in our community,” Perrault said.
“I plan to meet those workers… I want all those temporary workers to realize that [in] all of the places they are coming from, this is the place to be.”
Swift Current is ranked the most entrepreneurial city in the province by the Canadian Federation of Business. The city hopes this will help them reach their goal of 25,000 residents by 2025.
This means the city has to grow about 1,000 people every year for the next eight years.
The community has already started seeing benefits, with new restaurants, franchises and other businesses popping up in the community.
City officials aren’t saying the community is in a boom quite yet, but the hope is that oil prices will start to go up.
“We are in a steady growth cycle — we have been for a number of years,” Salberg said. “We do know when the oil sector comes back, we will be back into the boom.”