It's always a good day when somebody announces a project that will have a significant impact on southeast Saskatchewan.
We should be pleased that the Ceres Global Agriculture Corporation recently announced that it was moving forward with an oil and agriculture terminal near Northgate, which is situated along the Canada-U.S. border.
The numbers are pretty staggering: a $90 million project with twin rail loops that will each be capable of handling trains of up to 120 railcars. One rail line will be dedicated to agriculture, and the other will be for transloading and shipping oil. A logistics centre will unload imported equipment and materials for Saskatchewan’s resource economy.
More than 100 jobs will be created during construction, and about 30 people will be employed once the facility is operational.
Construction should begin soon, and the terminal should be open later this year.
It's a very exciting project that will be another boost for the southeast economy. It will create jobs. And it will help oil to reach markets. Thanks to the dearth in pipeline capacity, it has been more difficult to transport oil recently, which has hampered the southeast oil patch.
The transload facility won't be located in the heart of a thriving city, either, which means there won't be as many people affected in case something goes horribly wrong.
A project of this nature would not have happened 10 years ago. Few international companies would have had the confidence in Saskatchewan to pour $90 million into the province, or its key economies. And 10 years ago, few would have pictured that railways would play an increasingly important role in the transportation of oil.
(Whether railways will continue to play such a pivotal role in a few years is unknown, but Ceres' braintrust is obviously banking on oil transloading's future).
There are concerns about the project, beyond just the long-term future of transporting oil by rail cars. The biggest of them all will be the increase in truck traffic. There's already an abundance of trucks on southeast highways. The Ceres project means that there will be even more trucks on Highways 9 and 18.
There will also be concerns with the pressure applied to the already strained housing market in southeast Saskatchewan, although that could be nullified if work camps are imported to the construction site.
But it is a development worth celebrating. It'll add more strength for two of the most important industries in the province. It'll further enhance the southeast. And it's another example of what is now possible in the province.
Let's celebrate the excitement and the opportunities created by this project, rather than bemoan its challenges.