Regional Opportunities

North Battleford has undertaken a new initiative to identify and develop new opportunities. I attended the launch of the ‘Regional Opportunities Plan’ as an observer last week. I think this approach is very promising and may be beneficial to West Central Saskatchewan and Kindersley.

Ian Hamilton Derek Mahon

Mayor Derek Mahon of Battleford and Mayor Ian Hamilton of North Battleford

A lot of work has been undertaken by North Battelford to jump start this initiative. Broadly speaking the implementation steps include:

In terms of delivery and implementation we have recommended the development of a regional-based Economic Advisory Council that could leverage capacity, create better communication lines, encourage regional collaboration and project buy-in.  To realize any economic opportunities there will need to be an entity that can drive projects and create the type of regional cooperation that will be needed to achieve them.

The Battlefords Economic Advisory Council is recommended as the primary vehicle to coordinate the delivery of the opportunities plan outlined in this report.  The membership structure of the Council would include the following:

  • City of North Battleford
  • Town of Battleford
  • Regional representatives
  • First Nations
  • Battlefords Chamber of Commerce
  • Destination Battlefords
  • Northwest College

City Manager Jim Puffalt

The areas of focus include:

  • Regional Advisory Committee,
  • Aboriginal Engagement,
  • Value Chain Manufacturing,
  • Mineral Processing,
  • Oil and Gas,
  • Agriculture, and
  • Alternative Energy.

As I think of West Central Saskatchewan perhaps we should also be considering:

  • Regional Economic Development Council leading to the development of a regional economic development corporation
    • to facilitate the development of new corporations with the purpose of diversifying our regional economy
      • the intent is to grow the region
      • each municipality would make contributions as well as sharing in the generated revenue
  • Joint land use planning and economic development from a regional perspective rather than as separate municipalities,
    • intent is to generate more wealth for the region rather than municipal competition which,
    • rationalize land use for increased efficiencies and compatibilities,
      • the Economist reported that poor land use planning has created a significant drag on the US economy
    • cataloging previous economic development reports to utilize previous best practices and not repeat poor ideas (lets not reinvent the wheel nor throw the baby out with the bath water)
  • The biggest barrier to growing the wealth in West Central Saskatchewan is trust and political will
    • this will be a time consuming project with small steps to build trust and develop confidence in the process

Regional collaboration is the path to a sustainable future. Collaboration is not only required for economic development but also social development so our communities can be vibrant.