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Wednesday, 08 January 2014 09:13

2014 will be full of major political battles

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In the media, it’s easy to label numerous stories as battles.

Well, in 2014, it’s already shaping up to be the “Year of the Big Battle.”
It’s easy to point at events such as the endless debate on whether to deep-six the Senate; the inevitable upcoming controversy surrounding gay rights in Russia and the Sochi Olympics; (yawn!) Rob Ford — but from a local and provincial level for both Saskatchewan and Alberta, there’s a lot to watch for in 2014.
Here are some different issues to watch for this year on a regional level:
• Will this be the year where the petals fall off of the Brad Wall rose? He’s been the most popular premier in Canada essentially since he was first elected in November 2007. Arguably, Saskatchewan’s 14th premier is heading to “the most popular premier in Saskatchewan’s history” territory. However, he will have a couple of major issues to face this year  — budget and potash. Wall was criticized for his budgeting of potash numbers early last year and revenues fell well short. Now, after doing his best to help the potash industry out, the Potash Corp, cut 440 jobs or 18 per cent of its workforce. How the potash industry rebounds will either make Wall’s job easier or more difficult, especially with the Sask. budget.
Speaking of money, Wall’s government is expected to have a tight budget as he told provincial reporters in year-end discussions. There won’t be a big spending spree despite the fact the province’s population has increased to 1,114,170 (+5,867) and the manufacturing, agriculture and petroleum sectors generally look good.
The 2014 budget will be watched closely as acting provincial auditor Judy Ferguson expressed her dislike for the way the province’s 2012-13 general revenue fund budget numbers were reported. Media and the opposition will be watching how they are reported. How the numbers are reported and determined will almost be as important as the numbers.
• 2014 could be a year where some communities will have to find ways to try and keep their schools open. With the Chinook School Division following a system using a formula based on enrollment, there are schools which are probably on the bubble. Schools receive a one-year notice for intent for closure, but for all intents and purposes, those communities need to find a way to get more students into their buildings.
• One school which isn’t in trouble is the proposed integrated facility. It includes the new P3 Formula school which includes one public and one Catholic School. There are also proposals to include an aquatic centre, art gallery, library and long-term care facility, etc. which will be built adjacent to the hospital. It’s almost certain it’s a go, it’s just a matter of what form it will take, but not without its detractors. Concerns about location and being away from residential areas, transportation to and from, overall costs, etc., have all been expressed. Surveys have been done and in a year when Swift Current is celebrating its Centennial in an organized and grand style, everything will be rainbows and sunshine for this legacy-producing project in Swift Current.
• Annexation battles are on the horizon in southeast Alberta. Near Medicine Hat, it’s only a matter of time before the City of Medicine Hat tries to swallow up Redcliff. Costco is located between Redcliff and the Medicine Hat industrial area along with the existing strip mall. There will also be some soon-to-be additions with the new event centre/arena and businesses including a Boston Pizza, A&W, Hampton Inn, a large Petro Canada centre, and a Princess Auto. John Hasham confirmed the additions to the land he owns.
Both civic municipalities will be battling and you have to know new Mayor Ted Clugston would love to add that to the city’s tax base.
The same never-ending battle seemed to go on non-stop in Swift Current and its wanting to annex some land with the R.M. of Swift Current. The City has the land now.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor