The Opportunity City

The City of Weyburn

In the past, the city was given life by the Canadian Pacific Railway as it reached the area in 1892. The post office opened in 1895, and then a small land office followed in 1899 which would handle the upcoming rush of hopeful landowners. In 1900, Weyburn was a village, then in 1903 it was a town, and it wasn’t until 1912 that Weyburn could legally be called a city. In the meantime, it had become a very important railroad hub within the province because of the many lines that ran through it.

Today the city has a population of roughly 11 thousand people and is steadily growing. The city’s main industry is grain, and in fact the City of Weyburn ships out well over a half-million tonnes of grain each year. Other industry in the area includes oil and gas exploration.

Small municipalities like Weyburn can often be overlooked by potential residents who may not realize all the city has to offer. In fact, the local economy is diverse, and the city boasts all the elements needed to support a thriving, sustainable community and more. All of Canada’s major banks and credit unions are represented, as well as accounting firms, insurance companies, and legal and medical services. The city is as well-connected as any in Canada, with high speed internet and major radio stations.

According to Mayor Debra Button, “The atmosphere within Weyburn is very upbeat; people are excited for the changes that are happening as far as new development.” The city is right on the cusp of major growth while – at least for the moment – managing to retain its small town feel. The neighbours still all know each other, community members get involved in matters that need attending to, and everyone still pitches in for the betterment of the society that they live in.

“We have a really great quality of life, which is something that our citizens will not let us forget about as we change and grow,” says Mayor Button. “Our quality of life is paramount. Weyburn is a city of growing opportunities. We have evolved from a modest little retirement community to become a vibrant business model where commercial and residential investment is unprecedented.”

Recently, Mayor Button and her colleague attended a retail convention in Whistler, B.C. with a goal: to attract new business to the City of Weyburn. Always on the Mayor’s radar, attracting new business is an important endeavour for any city council, and Weyburn offers a great deal of support to big names and entrepreneurs alike who wish to do business in the city.

“We do target specific businesses to come to our community,” says Mayor Button, “and typically those bigger chains have a longer turnaround, but we do target them. There was a campaign to bring Wal-Mart to the city, where the community actually did a call-in to Wal-Mart to tell them that they wanted them in our community. I believe we were in the Globe and Mail as one of the communities that were lobbying to get a Wal-Mart.” Mayor Button says that it has proven a positive move for the city, bringing employment and actually boosting the sales of other community businesses.

Visitors to Weyburn are greeted with abundant natural beauty, an array of recreational opportunities, a diverse selection of restaurants, and eight hotels and motels to choose from. The city boasts a wide range of meeting and convention facilities for the business traveler, and this June the Weyburn Exhibition Grounds will play host to the Saskatchewan Oil & Gas Show. Weyburn is also home to the Heritage Village, a replica of a local village from the turn of the century through to the 1940s. With the Turner Curling Museum – boasting the world’s largest collection of curling memorabilia – the Soo Line Historical Museum, and a number of local art galleries rounding out the cultural offerings, the city truly has something for everyone.

From coast to coast, the Weyburn Redwings have also made a name for themselves, providing entertainment to the city and other communities. “They are not only great ambassadors for our city on the ice but off the ice as well, and it’s something that I am very proud of,” shares Mayor Button. “The Weyburn Red Wings have played in many Royal Bank Cups; we’re really proud of our hockey team.” And for the baseball fans, the Weyburn Beavers offer great entertainment during those hot summer months, playing in the Western Major Baseball League.

It is worth noting that when it comes to entertainment, anything that can’t be found in this quaint city can be found in Regina which is only an hour’s drive away. The proximity to Regina is a strong feature for Weyburn and has attracted many professional commuters to the city. According to Mayor Button, “You’re only an hour out of Regina so if you want to catch that big name show you can.”

To meet the needs of young families and professionals alike, the city maintains a fine education system from Pre-Kindergarten all the way up to its South East Regional College. The College is known for being modern and adaptable; for instance, when people come to Canada to work in the Oil and Gas industry, if there is a demand for a new college program to accommodate these people and get them employed in their desired sector, it can be done. It’s just another way of taking care of the population and making sure that every resident gets what they need. Education is a big part of any sustainable community, and Mayor Button notes that often, students who stay in their home town for their whole educational career will often end up staying within the community to help it grow.

“In the past we’ve needed a welding course and they have worked quickly to add that, as well as an English as a second language class,” Mayor Button explains. “For Pre-K, we have a program that’s independently run called The Family Place, and they actually started the Pre-K program in our community before the school divisions took it on. They raised funds for it, it’s just a marvellous showcase, and there have been several communities that have come to Weyburn to try and put a Jell-o mould onto that program so they could bring it to their own communities. Our community supports it very strongly; we even added it to the school systems as well.”

As far as care for those who are aging and find themselves needing a little more support, there are two different government run facilities within the city of Weyburn as well as several private care facilities. The challenge here, according to Mayor Button, is the need for staff within the aged care sector, as many of the individuals who come to the city are seeking employment in the higher-paying oil and gas sector.

According to Mayor Button, “The time has come for Saskatchewan; we have the technology now that makes it lucrative to start getting the oil out of the ground, and we also have potash. It’s all here and all of those resource sectors are charged on all cylinders are they are all meeting employment needs, and they typically pay higher. Because of that we are seeing a lot of entry level jobs opening up, so there are immigrants coming in to take those positions.”

This spike in employment has, of course, had the effect of reducing the housing vacancy rate. Mayor Button explains that council is trying to stay ahead of the game with the help of a housing advisory group that was established in 2009 to study the city’s housing needs. Council established a series of financial incentives for developers to build new homes – meeting the need for housing and spurring local construction at the same time.

It is this sort of ‘win-win’ approach that Mayor Button feels represents the true magic of Weyburn. There’s nothing better than living in a community filled with people who know one another and care deeply about each other’s well-being. When a community is able to band together and get things done for a common goal, it is a sign that there are positive things ahead.

No wonder, then, that Weyburn is celebrating 100 successful years. “Come visit me,” suggests Mayor Button. “August long weekend, we’re having a big party for the city’s centennial; I’d love to see you here!”

June 21, 2018, 11:26 PM EDT

A Proactive Approach to Resolving a Longstanding Debate

About forty skilled Central and South American workers from Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Costa Rica came to British Columbia, Canada as temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in 2006. This story incited Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) call for reforms to Canada’s TFW program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). LiUNA, a powerful voice within the construction industry with over half a million members – 110,000 of whom are in Canada – has been the only Canadian union to address the issue.