Reopening step by step

May 26, 2020, 9:45 am


It’s great to see a target date set for the Phase 3 reopening in Saskatchewan. I know there are many, many challenges to operating a business, but I heard from a lot of business owners last week who had been shut down and were so happy to be able to reopen their retail stores.

I’m sure restaurant operators will be very happy to get back to full operations, get all their people back working, and move forward. Most people I know who own businesses are in business because they want to provide a service—they run a restaurant because they love good food and want to share their passion, they sell sleds and ATVs because they love being out on the trails on sleds and ATVs, they set up a gun shop and a shooting range because they love hunting, they run a clothing store because they love fashion and want to share their ability to help people find the right thing to wear, etc.

I’m very lucky our business was able to keep running through this, and I feel for those business owners who have had to stop doing what they love to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

In Phase 3, everything from restaurants and bars to churches and daycares will be allowed to reopen. Restaurants and bars will be at 50 per cent capacity. Gyms and fitness facilities will also be able to open for business. Personal service businesses that did not open in Phase 2 are also allowed to begin providing services.

Great for those business owners that can get back in the saddle and back doing what they love, and can get their people back to work.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba have done a great job of keeping the coronavirus at bay, and it’s great to be moving forward with phase 3 of the reopening in Saskatchewan, but the province should be looking right now at potential dates for phase 4.

Now is the time to let businesses, individuals, groups, and municipalities know an approximate date for reopening remaining services so they can plan for their reopening.

We are doing well in our two provinces, and we should be getting back in gear.

Now is the time for province to invest in communities
The $3.2 million that will be going to communities in our area as part of the province’s economic stimulus plan to help us move beyond the Covid-19 shutdown is a great initiative and will be welcomed by local municipalities getting a windfall cheque to help with their 2020 budgets.

The MEEP program, which sounds astoundingly like the sound a roadrunner makes when chased by a wiley coyote (Meep! Meep!) will be put to good use in every community.

The municipal stimulus program is part of a larger program by the province to invest in infrastructure. The province is spending $7.5 billion on infrastructure over the next two years, including $300 million on passing lanes and other highway improvements.

This would be a good time for the province to ramp up investment in communities in ways that would pay dividends for decades to come.

There are two areas at the municipal level that could always use more investment and that do pay dividends—recreation and economic development.

The town of Moosomin is currently studying the economic impact of recreation, and the results will be fascinating to see. Once you start adding up the economic impact of all those people who come to town for hockey tournaments, ball tournaments and ongoing recreation programs, I know the figures are going to be very surprising for a lot of people. Investing in recreation not only improves the lives of people in a community, it creates economic activity.

Similarly, economic development is an area where a small investment could pay big dividends. How many towns missed out on an economic development opportunity because they didn’t have the infrastructure, didn’t have commercial or industrial lots, or just didn’t have the capacity to allow a project to proceed. Funding from the province to ensure communities have everything in place to allow for future development is an investment in our future as a province.

Passing lanes are nice and are needed on some highways, but investing in our communities, specifically in the areas of recreation and preparing for development, will pay dividends far into the future.

Time to take another look at Energy East
Very shortly we will have pipeline crews in the area again, and after the Covid shutdown, people will really notice the difference in activity once we have a crew of 250 based in Moosomin again.

We see the impact here, and the impact of a project like Energy East would be massive right across the country. About every three days since the application for Energy East was withdrawn, another news item comes out showing that it’s time to look at Energy East again.

Our dependence on foreign oil looks foolish when we have the third-largest oil reserves in the world, interruptions in supply due to violence in the Middle East, human rights and environmental violations in the countries we are dependent on for oil, ridiculously low prices for landlocked Western Canada Select crude, a Canadian oil company resorting to shipping through the Panama Canal to source Western Canadian oil, and now the news that one of the contenders for the U.S. presidency says he would revoke the permit for Keystone XL that was just approved to ship Canadian oil to the U.S. . . .

Our dependence on others has to end. It’s time for Canada to be energy independent. It’s time to get to it and build Energy East.