Saskatchewan’s boomtown: White City maintains small-town feel, despite dramatic growth
Projects like Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement generate wealth for Canada, notes Mayor Bruce Evans
Drawn by its close proximity to Regina and what Mayor Bruce Evans calls its “small-town family feel,” the Town of White City, Saskatchewan has become one of the fastest growing communities in all of Canada over the past 10 years.
Bruce Evans, Mayor of White City, SK.
Between 2011 and 2016 (the last federal census), the population of White City grew to 3,099 inhabitants, a 63.2% increase versus the provincial average of 6.3% and the national average of 5%.
Enbridge’s mainline pipeline corridor runs through the community and provides green space for parks, playgrounds, and many of the town’s interconnected walking paths. The Line 3 replacement route runs south of town.
“Our demographic is very young and we have lots of demand for our recreational facilities,” Evans explains.
“We have two schools that are bursting at the seams and we are soon going to need a third. We’re projecting that the White City region is going to be upwards of 22,000 people within the next 25 years.”
During a recent event near White City to mark the beginning of final-phase construction of the Line 3 project in Canada, the busy municipal leader shared his views with Enbridge about the project and the importance of pipelines to the Canadian economy.
Here’s an excerpt from that discussion.
Q: Tell us about your experience in dealing with Enbridge.
A: My experience with Enbridge goes back even before the Line 3 replacement project was announced. I’ve been the Mayor of White City for 12 years now and during that time there has been, on a few occasions, some maintenance work that needs to be done.
We were always consulted long in advance and I was always very impressed with the quality of the workmanship and the safety standards that took place. In terms of the Line 3 project, we have been consulted right from the beginning.
We have had nothing but good relations with Enbridge with the lines that have run through our community.
Q: White City has been a strong supporter of the Line 3 project. Can you elaborate on why that is?
A: We have a new overpass that has dramatically increased highway safety, a new wastewater treatment plant being constructed jointly by the Town and the Rural Municipality of Edenwold, new schools, and a new RCMP facility.
These new infrastructure projects require major investments by the provincial and federal governments as well as the municipality. Those funds have to come from somewhere and certainly revenues from resource development projects like Line 3 are a huge contributor to that.
In terms of generating wealth for our country, there’s no question that the oil and gas industry creates a huge amount of wealth directly and indirectly.
We have to obviously be careful that we protect the environment but certainly I think that pipelines are the safest method of transporting oil and gas to market.
So I think it’s fair to say that the community absolutely thinks that the Line 3 replacement is a project that needs to happen and we’re in full support of it.
Q: Are you aware of any opposition to the Line 3 project in your community?
A: I’m sure there may be some people in the community who are not in support of this project—you never get 100% unanimity with anything that happens.
But frankly, it would puzzle me greatly to understand how anybody could be opposed to replacing a 50-year old pipeline with a brand new one which does nothing but increase the safety to the environment and to the general public.
Q: How would you respond to the argument that we don’t need fossil fuels, and therefore, pipelines like Line 3?
A: The debate over whether fossil fuels will be needed 20 or 50 years from now I will leave to somebody 20 or 50 years from now to answer. We do need them today.
We are importing oil from offshore in a country that’s energy-rich. It makes zero sense to me that we would be doing so and that we would be preventing our resource revenues from coming to the provincial and federal economies through developing these resources.
Q: Aside from the economic benefit to the municipality itself, are there other benefits you see from the Line 3 project?
A: Enbridge recently contributed $35,000 from a special Line 3 project fund to support priority community projects in White City including fire department and playground equipment.
In addition, White City has been chosen as a Field Office location for Line 3 construction and we are beginning to experience an influx of construction workers to the community.
There are also the construction jobs and payments to our local businesses such as hotels and food and beverage service. We have a lot of trailer or recreation vehicle parks that will be full during construction—those are significant temporary benefits in addition to the long-term benefits this pipeline will bring to us.