In her address to members of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Mayor Shari Decter Hirst rattled off a laundry list of “to do” items for city hall that are both optimistic and ambitious in their scope.
From acquiring regular passenger air service out of Brandon’s McGill Field, ongoing work on the 2017 Canada Summer Games bid, continued talk of a “Smart City,” the future unveiling of a housing strategy for the city, or the revitalization of the historic downtown district through the recently adopted Secondary Plan and Tax Increment Financing program, our mayor and councillors have big goals for what they hope to accomplish as a government, and for the short-term and long-term future of this city.
But the most interesting part of Decter Hirst’s speech, we believe, was when she uttered the phrase “Calgary Light” while up at the podium.
As the Sun reported on Friday, Decter Hirst specifically named Westman’s oilpatch as a land of opportunity that the city should be focused upon.
“All of the service sector that services the oilpatch, whether it’s the heavy-duty mechanics, the geologists, whether it’s chemical engineers, these are the folks we are working with now to convince them that Brandon is the centre. We are in the middle of Virden, Waskada and are a large centre,” she said.
Attracting the many employees who work on oil rigs and drive oil trucks, or who are employed at one of the many companies across the southwest region connected to our burgeoning oil industry, is a great idea. As the largest community in the region, Brandon is well-placed to act as a central home base for the oil industry.
Last November, we reported that a Calgary-based oil and gas servicing firm, Trican Well Service, was opening a regional office in Brandon. The company intended to hire between 35 and 50 employees for its Wheat City headquarters, including heavy equipment operators and drivers.
This is precisely the kind of foot-in-the-door industry this city needs to take advantage of the oil industry and make it work for Brandon. But it will only fly if several other initiatives begin moving forward.
Folks with money want something to spend it on and there’s every reason to believe that many of them might decide to settle down in this community, which affects everything from city services to housing and business.
The trick is to convince them to stay here. But with all the items on this government’s to do list, we’re curious just what the city can do to make Brandon more attractive to the oil industry.
More importantly, what can we afford?
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 14, 2012