The Number One Reason Why Small Towns Deserve Your Tax Dollars

Posted on Thursday February 11, 2016 at 06:45PM

I love small town living. I have made that clear to the six or seven people that subscribe to my blog, and I am prepared to shout that from those big round hay bales if someone would give me a boost up. True, I am a biased, unashamed, small town girl. I prefer to live here. I have fun here. I love knowing most of the people here. I love that so much of my food is provided by local producers, and I can walk to most places in my day to day life. It is a good life.

I love the city too, when I get a chance to visit. Brew pubs, and galleries, and all kinds of festivals, friends, and concerts make Regina, and Saskatoon a regular destination for me.  This is not a city mouse, country mouse comparison--both have their charms. I get that there are more people in the cities and that there is a need for more tax payers dollars to go there based on the populations. But do we really, really REALLY need a stadium more than we need infrastructure to small towns? Do we really, really, REALLY need a bypass at how much per acre, rather than shore up the essentials that keep the water flowing and the toilets flushing in all those little towns all over the province? Do we really? 

When I get up on my high bale ( I am afraid of horses, so not likely I'm going to get up on one of those...right Tree?), I do get the sense from time to time that the death of the small town is expected, inevitable , and even something we should accept. I don't accept it. I don't think you should accept it either.

You can blame Council if you want, but that is not fair. Councils inherited issues from previous Councils, who reacted to the issues of the day, and did not plan for the future, not because they did not want to, but because the money was just never there. The costs to replace infrastructure has outstripped the small population tax base's ability to pay. Eventually, some of these towns, if we do not do something, are just going to die off, because eventually, they are going to hit a water problem, or waste problem that they cannot afford to fix. And when you flush and nothing happens, as fun as outhouses can be (they are NOT fun), I think eventually people will move.

Some would say, that is the way of things. I disagree. The province needs to carefully consider a new way of doing things if they do not want to throttle the golden goose that is laying the eggs for the whole province.

77% of our population according to SUMA lives in small town Saskatchewan. Those small communities are the hubs of all the resources, the potash, the oil, the agriculture. Councils built subdivisions, and people who live there paid the cost, but not all of the costs. It takes years and years for towns to recoup the expenses associated with those developments. Some of these communities went into debt to support the industries that feed the whole province by developing lots in hopes people would build and businesses would come. They supported the boom to the detriment of their infrastructure. The oil industry comes and goes like a guitar player on tour, and provides little to support the infrastructure they depend on to operate when they are in town. The small towns provide. 

So...what happens when there are finally more water breaks than there are dollars to fix them?  How do we provide for the resources that support our province? Small towns are, I think, essential to the provincial economy, and have sustained, made do, and provided supports through our volunteer committees for a lot of years. We are every bit as important as the cities are, and we need to stand up for our towns. We deserve your tax dollars for that reason alone. It isn't a matter of city and country, it is a matter of doing what is best for our provincial economy.

It has to go beyond the Councils. I know, we elect them, or we ignore the whole process and let other people elect them, but the stakes are too high now to be lazy as citizens. We need to support SUMA and we need to talk to our MLA about getting a Made-In-Saskatchewan infrastructure program. We should insist on it. Our livelihoods depend on it, no matter what the landscape looks like outside your window.

Check out SUMA on Facebook, and lets get behind our communities.

Author: Solomon Matthewson Consulting


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The Number One Reason Small Towns Deserve Your Tax Dollar

A very well written article! I totally agree with this and think small towns, just not here but everywhere, get shafted by all levels of government. They also get the bad end of the stick from a lot of the larger corporations. Councils can only work with what they have, but many need more experience people aboard that can help plan and prepare for the future of their town.

Posted on Saturday February 13, 2016 at 01:36PM by Cathy

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