Cultivating an economic windfall in the heart of Saskatchewan’s irrigation country

Enbridge ‘a fine neighbor,’ Line 3 Replacement Program ‘a wonderful thing,’ says Outlook mayor

There’s been a Derdall in Outlook since . . . well, since the days when Saskatchewan wasn’t yet known as Saskatchewan.

“My grandfather and his four brothers arrived here in around 1902 and spent the winter here . . . I think they turned a wagon over and lived in it for the winter,” recalls Ross Derdall, the mayor of the west-central Saskatchewan town of about 2,200. “They’d heard about the $10 quarter-sections, and came up from Iowa.

“It was considerably colder as an average, back when they were there. I remember my grandfather saying it got to minus-60 certain days,” says Derdall. “One of my uncles went back to the States. The rest homesteaded here, and we’ve been here well in excess of 100 years.”

Construction began in early August on Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Program—the largest project in company history—in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, including the Outlook area.

In Canada, the construction phase of this $5.3-billion project will create thousands of jobs, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, and contribute billions of dollars to the Canadian gross domestic product (GDP).

The Derdall family has lived near Outlook long enough to see the region develop irrigation farming, following the construction of the Gardiner Dam in the 1960s, and see the town transformed into a full-service community.

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While there has been no oil and gas development in the region, Enbridge has been a neighbor in Outlook for more than 60 years. Now the Derdalls and their fellow Outlook residents have seen the arrival of hundreds of pipeliners, who’ll be staying in town for several months, as part of the L3RP—one of the largest private infrastructure projects Canada has seen.

“I would call Enbridge a fine neighbor. We’ve had the pipelines (on Enbridge’s Mainline network) in the area forever and a day. We’ve got the large storage facilities there in (nearby) Milden . . . it’s all been positive, as far as I’m concerned,” says Derdall. “It’s been a good, good thing.”

During the L3RP’s construction phase, Enbridge will invest about $3 million in community-focused initiatives in 2017 and 2018 in towns across Canada.

And local businesses in Canadian towns and small cities along the right-of-way are already reaping the benefits of economic spinoffs—whether it’s providing goods and services for construction activities, or looking after the food, shelter, clothing, laundry and sundry needs of the pipeliner community.

“The discussion has been very open, and I guess that’s what I appreciate the most,” says Derdall. “Enbridge themselves have had meetings where they invited all of our business representatives. That’s a wonderful thing—I don’t believe something like that has ever happened before—and it met with a lot of approval.”