Strategic Plan's growth projections are not credible

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Last week the City released its Strategic Plan for the next three years. In that plan they suggest the population is going to grow from a population of 15,500 to 25,000 by 2025. Unbelievable!

We have grown by about 550 people from 2006 to 2011, or about 100 people per year, and now they believe we will have sustained growth of 900 people per year for the next 11 years.

Here are the Census numbers from 1971 to 2011 for our City: 1971 - 15,415; 1981 - 14,747; 1991 - 14,815; 2001 - 14,821; 2011 - 15,503.

As you can see we have grown by 112 people in 40 years since 1971. Is this the tremendous growth we have been hearing about for the past 10 years? At the time of the last census, the provincial population had grown by 6.7 per cent from the previous census in 2006. Our city grew by 3.7 per cent amongst the lowest of Saskatchewan cities. We have to participated in the provincial growth for the past number of years. What is going to change that will cause us to grow at an 850 per cent higher growth rate than in the past?

I have been trying to future out how the City arrived at these numbers and have come up with three possible scenarios:

1) 25 by 25 sounded like a cute catch phrase.

2) They actually believed they could achier these numbers.

3) They thought they needed these projections in order to justify the building of the proposed new Multi-Use Facility.

If any of these reasons are even close to being correct, it does not lend a whole lot of credibility to our council.

There seems to be a feeling that we need to build new facilities to attract people to our City. I would suggest that we will get many more people to relocate to Swift Current if we can provide the opportunity of a well paying job. If we wish to build these projects, why not wait until our tax base has grown first and if we can afford the project then take a look. I hope we haven't developed the "build it and they will come" attitude, as that only works in the movies.

Our Business Development Department has been spending about $500,000 yearly to bring new industry to the City. One would be hard pressed to think of any new industries with significant employee numbers that have relocated to, or started up in our City in the last 10 years as a result of the efforts of our City.

Looking back at the history of Swift Current there is only one 10 year period where we had growth approaching the numbers the city is projecting. That was the period when the City became insolvent and the Province had to take over our finances. At that time we could not write a cheque any larger than $50 without provincial approval. The biggest reason for becoming insolvent at that time was that the City could not afford the costs of land assembly, new streets and sidewalks and sewer and water installations associated with that growth. Those costs are extremely high and much of those costs are not recouped until many years later. So even if we could achieve the population numbers as suggested, the upfront infrastructure costs would be prohibitive.

To sum up, any organization certainly needs a plan with goals and objectives. The plan needs to spell out what that organization wishes to achieve and how to reach those goals. In order for that plan to be successful, however, the goals must be reasonably achievable. The plan for the City may have some good ideas included in it, but those ideas get totally lost because of the ridiculous population numbers that are the basis for the rest of the plan.

Don Robinson - Swift Current

Organizations: Business Development Department, City of Swift Current

Geographic location: Swift Current, Saskatchewan

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Recent comments

  • Bart
    April 02, 2014 - 14:49

    When one breaks this down by the numbers vs. days to 2025 it really becomes apparent just how laughable this idea is. Simply put, to get to 25,000 people by 2025 five people need to move into the city every two days. Does that sound reasonable? That's 75 people moving in per month. Does that sound reasonable? Nope. Even if it were possible to see these kinds of monthly numbers the infrastructure cannot support it nor is the money there to pay for it. Growing is one thing, growing out of control is something else again. Infrastructre would collapse and the tax payers living here would be digging even deeper and deeper to pay for it all - which itself would be futile as it could never be achieved. Can you think of anything that grows uncontrolled that is good for anyone? Not likely, but that is what the city wants to see happen. They will not get this kind of growth which is a good thing for all of us. It's a bad thing that we will pay a heavy price in taxes to pay for this pipe dream.

  • Hensel
    March 30, 2014 - 14:14

    Tough to imagine Swift Current will grow by 10,000 people, when Medicine Hat offers a 5% discount on every day life without a sales tax. Or when an Alberta family earns, on average, $10,000 more per year than a Saskatchewan family, while paying a lower percentage in income tax. Perhaps most unrealistic, is that after gaining a mere 100 people, in 40 years, some how the city will find 10,000 people just dying to live here. Saskatchewan's number one source of population growth is third world immigration, with the Philippines being the primary source. I just don't think Swift Current can add 10,000 poorly paid immigrant workers and overpaid nurses. What are they all going to do? The other source of population growth is the natural increase in the First Nations community. Doubt that's a realistic source for Swift. The whole province of Saskatchewan only gains 1,000 people a year from other provinces, so every one of them would have to move to Swift Current, for an entire decade, to make this happen. That's unrealistic, especially with massive property tax hike. Much like Pat Fiasco's unrealistic promise to grow Regina to 250,000 in a decade (he hit 200,000) this is something Council KNOWS is a LIE. If not, perhaps Councillor Budd can explain where these new residents are coming from and what they'll do! Otherwise, like mayor Pat, this is just "hype" to make people feel good and justify overspending, as no political opponent can criticize without being dubbed as "negative" and not "believing in Swift Current". Worked for mayor Pat, despite being 50,000 people away from his PROMISE. To me, if you KNOW it not only WON'T happen but also CANNOT happen, it is a LIE and that is BAD

  • Skeptic
    March 21, 2014 - 20:29

    The most recent SaskParty budget predicts a drop of over 1% in revenue. How does that make sense if the economy is booming as much as he claims and if the resource sector is really doing well?

  • Bart
    March 10, 2014 - 13:14

    It's option #3 - hands down. The mayor basically says this outright. It's the same reason for the 6%/year capital project tax grab. All to build in the NE corner for a population that most of us paying now will never live to ever see. Yet again Don has the numbers nailed correctly. This city council is completely out of control.

  • steve
    March 10, 2014 - 12:51

    love the irony in this guy commenting on credibility! hilarious.