The City of Yorkton has owned farmland for years.
It is land acquired over time with an eye to future city expansion, as well as creating a buffer area where the City has control over development.
It is the sort of dual purpose planning a community with an eye to growth has to undertake.
That said, often growth is not as fast as might at times be expected.
In the local history book Treasure Chest City there is a suggestion that by the year 2000 Yorkton would be a city of 25,000.
It took until only recently to seriously flirt with 20,000, and the next 5,000 may be some time in coming yet.
There was an expectation in recent years the city would see a major influx of people with the announcement of a new potash mine south of the city.
That announcement, while seeming imminent a year, or so ago, now seems on hold.
There is little doubt over the long term of things a new mine, and likely more than one, will be established in the Yorkton area, and that will spur additional growth, but the exact timing of such developments will be depend on company decisions, world commodity prices and government regulations.
So much of the farmland under City ownership remains just that, farmland awaiting a change in use as the city grows.
The City has traditionally rented the land to area producers, and while they have received fair rental rates, in the grand scheme of the City’s overall budget, it has not been a significant income source.
To the City’s credit they have now begun to utilize the farmland resource in a way which is good for the community.
In 2012 the City handed a piece of the land over to the Yorkton Terriers Junior Hockey Club. The Club hit the streets and garnered sponsorships from local businesses and along with farmer involvement planted and harvested a crop. The majority of inputs being supplied through donations meant huge profit margins, money which went to the Terriers as a major new funding source.
We are all aware of the importance of Junior hockey in the city, from providing winter entertainment to building community pride which comes with their success.
At the same time Junior hockey is an increasingly expensive proposition. Everything from bus trips to hotel rooms to hockey sticks costs, and those costs are growing.
The City shouldn’t be expected to lay out cash for a Junior hockey club, but participating in a fundraiser by providing the land base, the cost being only the small loss of rental revenue, makes perfect sense.
The Terrier project is a three-year one, and hopefully can go on from there.
This year the City has expanded its support through farmland participation by providing some 750 acres to the Health Foundation.
Like the Terriers the Foundation has gained broad support to supply inputs, and with an expectation of generating some $300,000 in gross sales from the project, the new hospital project will be the beneficiary.
Obviously a new regional hospital is a good thing for Yorkton, and the support of the City for this project by supplying land is a good one.
Both the Health Foundation and Terrier projects are good ones, and the City has shown wisdom on being on-side providing the land base.