Weyburn – Weyburn Mayor Marcel Roy said, “There’s a lot of optimism,” with regards to the oilpatch, which he works in.
On May 14 he spoke highly of the two headline speakers at the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show June 4-5, saying, “Vivian Krause and Rex Murphy are coming, and that’s very exciting.”
As for what’s new in Weyburn, there’s some construction happening along Highway 13 in the city’s northeastern corner, where ground preparation is taking place. However, Roy said the new project has not yet been announced.
The city is completing a clean water reservoir which will be enough to supply up to 20,000 people.
In early May there was a sod-turning for new $33 million school. A $25 million community centre is also in the works. It will include a half-size soccer field, art gallery, kids climbing centre, upstairs walking track, pickleball court, four sports simulators and an outdoor hockey rink. “This is very much a regional centre,” he said.
The most recent provincial budget announced $2.5 million for the planning and development of a new hospital in Weyburn. Roy estimates it will cost something around $100 to $120 million. He noted that’s unfortunate, because in the late 1980s, it would have been more like $15 to $17 million.
The community has raised $20 million for the new hospital, and the city has nearly raised its contribution.
Roy works in the oilpatch where he owns a safety business. “It’s steady, but nothing like it was,” he said. But he added there’s optimism for the third and fourth quarters this year.
One of the key issues in the region is Crescent Point Energy Corp.’s sale of six parcels of properties, five in southeast Saskatchewan and one in southwest Manitoba. The company has field offices in Weyburn and Carlyle.
“I would hope they keep it together,” Roy said. “They’ve done well for this community.”
Asked if there were any new oilfield ventures in Weyburn he was aware of, Roy said no, but business has been basically stable.
He pointed out the community has several service rig companies and trucking outfits.
Weyburn has rescue and fire truck agreements with all the rural municipalities south of Weyburn, to the border, he added.
As the downturn in the oilpatch hit the provincial government’s coffers, it, in turn, reduced money for Weyburn. Roy pointed out that the city lost $1.4 million per year in grants-in-lieu, which used to be paid by Crown corporations instead of property taxes. Roy said that was actually a royalty, dating back to 1950.
“Weyburn’s been cut back through the years from the province. That’s reflective on lost revenue that was from oil,” he said.
As oil prices and royalties build, dollars will be handed back to the city, Roy expects.
The city has over 500 lots available, and plenty of existing homes for sale. There are also rentals available. “There’s lots of houses for sale,” he said.
“Companies have downsized, right-sized. They’ve become more lean.
“This is the lowest, longest slump I’ve seen, but we’re on an optimistic upturn. It’ll be a while before it comes back,” he said.
Two things keep Roy up at night – ensuring Weyburn has sufficient water supply as it grows, and robotics.
“I can see where robotics and automation are taking over. I think it’s going to have an impact on jobs,” he said. “But how much it’s going to impact the oilfield, I’m not sure.
“It’ll increase safety, but reduce people. How much is yet to be seen.”