The City of Swift Current
Where life makes sense
Sleepy prairie town this is not. The City of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, has recently seen the fruition of a massive expansion project that has Canadians from across the country looking to the city as an example, and, for some, even a new home.
A thriving city
Swift Current’s history book is writing a new chapter. Long since the days where its eponymous creek, Swift Current, and its location as a divisional point for the CP Rail were the main points of economic activity. The city’s uniquely diversified economic base has positioned Swift Current in a very advantageous place. At a time when most of the world is battening down the hatches to protect itself from the wake of the global financial crisis, the local City Council is strategising for expansion.
“Our main economic sectors,” explains Marty Salberg, Director of Business Development, “are manufacturing, agriculture, tourism; we are also retail and service centres for the south-western region of Saskatchewan. Our diverse economy has shined through the recession and, fortunately, we have not been as badly affected.” Even some of the biggest banks in the country were calling to ask about their secret to success.
The fact is, even their sectors themselves are diverse. Swift Current is home to Batco Manufacturing, Urban Forest Recyclers and Rem Manufacturing. As opposed to being just cereal-based, the agricultural industry also yields lentils, chickpeas and livestock. And being just a few miles off of Canada’s longest road, the TransCanada Highway, brings in tourists from all over the country.
An active city
A few years ago, the city came up with a campaign that best articulated all that Swift Current has to offer. The motto, “Where life makes sense,” summarizes what attracts businesses and families to the city.
The Swift Current community rallies around its exemplary recreational services in its city. Mayor Jerrod Schafer elaborates: “Affordability, education, accessibility, health, recreation—these things really set us apart from other cities our size or even a bit larger than Swift Current.”
The city has recently celebrated the completion of a massive expansion of the Credit Union iPlex recreational centre, complete with the addition of six new sheets of curling ice, which are getting a lot of great use—this is the prairies after all! The city will taking advantage of this expansion as it will be hosting the 2010 Ford World Women’s championships in March. The 2,900-seat arena is also home to the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.
Covering all bases
As it is a service and retail hub to south-west Saskatchewan, the city serves 50,000 people. According Salberg, “It used to be that we weren’t meeting the needs of our people, and they would go to Alberta to shop. The Mayor came up with a great plan, which was developed and endorsed by the community—the school boards, citizens, government, the health district—everybody had a say. What really made it work was political leadership who adopted the plan and strategy and who supported actions and investments by the city.” Today, no trips to Alberta are necessary. Swift Current has all the amenities its people need.
Healthcare is also a top priority and no one is left in wont for that service, either. In fact, a new $35-million hospital expansion is underway in order to better serve its community. “Significant highway infrastructure is being completed, which will be out by our new regional hospital,” says the Mayor, “and an overpass is being added for safer and convenient traffic flow, which will be ready this summer.”
The Mayor is also pleased to tell CBJ that in 2010 the Swift Current regional college will be given a $15-million expansion. He says that with more space, the institution will be able to improve the programming they offer which will keep our youth and attract youth.
Says the Mayor, “When you look at growth in terms of construction, in the last 30 years, the city has invested a total of $475 million in infrastructure, and $220 million (or 46 per cent) of that has taken place during the last five years. That speaks volumes to how the city has come forward in the last few years.”
It is encouraging to see such good things happen to the City of Swift Current. Generations of its citizens will look back at this time in the city’s history as one of great development and change. As Swift Current has recently been granted scheduled air service, it is all the more prepared to welcome its friends and family. Perhaps many will come to Swift Current by way of the oil and gas sector, as the ongoing oil boom is having a positive effect on the city, as well.
Says Salberg, “There has already been a tremendous amount of activity, and as more companies look to expand their footprint into our province, we become a key location for them and their families to look at moving into.”