Every once in a while one can be forgiven for thinking Yorkton is an urban city – the Gallagher Centre, multiple schools, expansive fire hall, the Anne Portnuff Theatre -- existing primarily for the people that live within its boundaries.
That of course is about as far from reality as one can get however.
Yorkton is a hub existing to serve the agricultural community of a region extending at least 100-miles in each direction.
That was brought into focus again Monday when Richardson International Limited announced a significant investment in their canola crush plant here. The expansion will double its processing capacity to 2.2 million metric tonnes, making it the largest canola processor in North America.
While the company did not attach a price tag to the project, it is easy to suggest it will be well north of $100 million.
“The impact will be all kinds of positivity and hope for the city,” said Yorkton Mayor Mitch Hippsley (see story page A1), adding if other businesses, especially those tied to agriculture, see Richardson willing to make a major investment in Yorkton, they may as well.
“It helps underline Yorkton as being an agriculture centre,” he said.
And therein lies the real heart of our city, one brought into focus before by the canola sector.
Monday’s announcement was not the first time the canola industry made headlines here that showed the importance of the farm sector to Yorkton.
It was one day in September 2006, that Yorkton took its first step toward being one of the canola-crushing capitals of Canada.
That day two companies separately announced they would build canola processing facilities here.
The first announcement came from then James Richardson International Ltd., which said it would start construction in 2007 on a $100-million plant. The plant would be capable of processing 840,000 tonnes of canola per year.
The second announcement, which came about an hour after the first, was from Louis Dreyfus Canada Ltd., which said its $90-million canola-crushing facility would come on stream in 2008.The Louis Dreyfus plant would be able to handle 850,000 tonnes of canola a year.
And, Yorkton is a destination for more than farmer’s canola.
Grain Millers operates a major oat process facility that got bigger in 2019.
As of 2019 Grain Millers facility was producing 100,000 metric tonnes of processed product annually. The completed expansion under way that year would increase production to 180,000 metric tonnes annually, or an increase in capacity of 80 per cent, making it the company’s largest oat processing facility.
Then there is TA Foods, carving out niche markets for flax oil as food in markets including China.
To help build the export markets the company hosted a tour of 65 visitors from China, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in 2019, a tour arranged through the Saskatchewan Trade & Export Partnership.
And while not all news has been good in terms of agriculture-related business, the sale of Morris Industries, being one on the negative side of the ledger. Long a foundational business locally in terms of agricultural manufacturing, when sold, the assets in Yorkton were not part of the deal, leaving the fate of its facilities up in the air.
But there are always ups and downs in terms of business and when it comes to those serving the farm sector the ups far outdistance the downs locally through recent years.