We heard the other day a certain world-record-breaking attempt at building something “touristy” and memorable in Slave Lake won’t be going ahead as soon as hoped. Why? Because an expected donation of oilfield tanks has proven harder to arrange than anticipated.
‘It turns out there’s an oil boom on,’ is what we were told.
Times are so good, in other words, that everybody is busy, and they need all the materials they can get their hands on.
As an example of the down side of an economic boom, this one isn’t very good. Slave Lake can easily do without the world’s largest fire hydrant for as long as it takes. Other effects of the boom part of the cycle are more serious and require more urgent attention.
One is a shortage of affordable housing. Inflation puts rents out of reach for people that once could afford them. Demand outstrips supply generally, driving prices up.
Various social problems associated with the housing situation are aggravated, increasing demand on protective, emergency and health services.
Another negative outcome is the big increase in heavy hauling pounds the roads into smithereens, as we can see happening all the time, on any northern highway.
But for people able to work, there are certainly jobs going begging. That’s a good thing, and it will be bringing people from across the country and around the world. Where they’ll live is a good question.
What all this points at is the importance of a provincial government that has its priorities in order. On one hand it needs to foster a climate where doing business is attractive and not too restrictive. On the other, it needs to tax appropriately and use the revenues to make things work; health care, education, highways, environmental protection, public safety – all that stuff and more.
Finding the balance – that’s what it’s all about.
Lakeside Leader Staff
May 8, 2023
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