Editorial - Unknown makes planning difficult

Visioning is never an easy process for a city.

In Yorkton there have been dreams of the population hitting 20,000, even 25,000, going back literally decades.

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It just hasn’t happened.

At the regular meeting of Council on Monday, Yorkton Councillor Darcy Zaharia noted that when he was a youngster, the population here sat at around 14,000. Today the number is about 16,500.

That number is a long way from 20,000 and below what some envision.

Will we hit 20,000 people in Yorkton?

Probably, but the when is certainly unclear.

The dream came into sharper focus when the two canola plants we now have were announced only hours apart. It was seen as the start of potentially steady and significant growth.

That hope was bolstered by a strong world economy in terms of commodities, primarily because China was going through a massive growth spurt.

That growth spurt certainly punched up the Saskatchewan economy. Things looked good.

Thanks to the economic boom in the region, hopes of a new potash mine became a regular headline.

But that financial surge is long gone, the province is back in a time of red ink, and the idea of aggressive growth has vanished, the potash mine plan stuffed on a shelf somewhere for a day well into the future.

In Yorkton, the brief upturn of the canola plants and the world economy helped, but not as much as expected.

A housing development on the northeast corner of the city has not filled with houses as the expected growth never occurred. Ditto a business area development behind the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce offices. It sits empty as a visual example of the economic slowdown.

So now the City, along with the neighbouring RMs of Orkney and Wallace, and the province, have funded a study of transportation needs in our future, at least in terms of what roads need improvement, or built from scratch.

The idea of having a plan should the provincial and federal governments suddenly offer up dollars has merit, but what future do we reasonably expect?

The dream of 20,000 would require a growth rate of nearly 25 per cent. You have to be pretty optimistic to expect that sort of growth anytime soon, given the history of slow growth being the norm. In some respects slow and steady is more easily handled, but it does cloud the crystal ball on something as major as the current Regional Transportation Study where needs rely very much on knowing the numbers. 

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