Regional development falls under a new banner - S 4-6 (2024)

With the clock ticking on BHP Jansen becoming operational, the reality has set in regarding the potential impact on the region on several fronts. Housing, infrastructure, daycare, health provision, expanded businesses and services are among those needs. To that end, municipalities and regional development interests have been working alongside First Nations communities and BHP in partnership to plan. The result is the establishment of the Sylvite Four-Six Regional Development Partnership(S 4-6) with the support of BHP.

The first symposium in a series was held on Friday, April 28 at the Humboldt Uniplex. Mayors, municipal representative, First Nations Chiefs, business partners and many others gathered to official launch the amalgamation and discuss one of the most immediate needs, housing.

The name is taken from the mineral sylvite, from which potash is derived, and the two Treaty areas, Treaties Four and Six, in which the development is taking place. S 4-6 was established in the fall of 2023 to support the rapid growth in the region surrounding the project. Together with Mid Sask Municipal Alliance, BHP and the Province of Saskatchewan, S 4-6 has developed a regional community action plan addressing many of the stated issues, the first of which is housing.

Karina Gistelinck, asset president potash for BHP, delivered an address outlining the evolution and purpose of S 4-6 and its potential to support a variety of needs.

“I think it really formalizes the next step, and the communities, the Indigenous partners, and the private sector coming together with the municipalities and saying now we have our destiny in our own hands,” said Gistelinck in an interview. “They’re saying ‘let's get going building the services and the infrastructure the communities need to host many more people to come and work here.’”

The first symposium is not just a symbolic moment, she said, but rather a launch of real solutions provided by players in the partnership operating in an organized and systematic fashion. Gistenlinck acknowledged the reality that there is not enough housing in the region to meet the anticipated needs for growth, hence the Housing Forum as the opening act of the new partnership.

There’s plenty of pressure on those providing for local infrastructure to meet increased demands, said Todd Goudy, Melfort MLA in whose riding the project resides. Staff from BHP, including Principal Corporate Affairs Ann Paton, have been in discussion with Minister of Government Relations Don McMorris for years on the progress and ensuing needs, Goudy explained.

“We really have appreciated BHP’s commitment to not just developing the economy but looking after the social aspect of community growth as well,” Goudy said. “I think this (S 4-6) is just a great step to make before decisions are made in consultation with local stakeholders. BHP is doing a great job working together and putting the meeting on today.”

BHP’s efforts in regional development and community outreach received praise from Fishing Lake First Nation Chief Derek Sunshine who talked about opportunities stemming from the project.

“No other organization has come to Fishing Lake to offer support in any fashion,” said Chief Sunshine during an interview. “The province hasn’t opened any doors for our Nation, but since BHP has come out here and started to develop their mine, they’ve made small changes in our Nation with financial and other supports. The support and engagement have made a change in our community, but it’s an ongoing process. It will be many years before our Nation is on the same playing field as any other RM or other people out there. But having BHP in our area has made a difference for the positive.”

Along with the First Nations partnerships, local administrators and officials view the establishment of S 4-6 as a chance to work together with expanded roles and information, instead of preparing in isolation. Such is the case with the community of LeRoy, one of the closest to the mine site, and its mayor, Kurt Schreiner.

“For me, the importance of this group is working together, breaking down the walls and barriers,” Schreiner confided. “Now, we’re seeing a lot more regional partnerships and collaboration, and that’s what this is all about. I wouldn’t have the relationships with Fishing Lake, Muskowekwan, or Day Star First Nations, with Lanigan or Nokomis. That part is unreal to me because it’s not something that has been done in the past.”

With similar challenges in terms of aging infrastructure or limited housing options, there’s a strength in advocacy and working together in a group that Schreiner feels will allow all communities to become more productive in shorter time frames.

The day saw building developers, regional economic interests, and tourism officials join in with sessions and networking opportunities to foster the anticipated growth. Additional symposia and forums are planned with a focus on different needs for regional communities and partners.

The morning session culminated with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the partners that galvanized the S 4-6 concept into reality.

Regional development falls under a new banner - S 4-6 (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kieth Sipes

Last Updated:

Views: 6469

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kieth Sipes

Birthday: 2001-04-14

Address: Suite 492 62479 Champlin Loop, South Catrice, MS 57271

Phone: +9663362133320

Job: District Sales Analyst

Hobby: Digital arts, Dance, Ghost hunting, Worldbuilding, Kayaking, Table tennis, 3D printing

Introduction: My name is Kieth Sipes, I am a zany, rich, courageous, powerful, faithful, jolly, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.