REGINA – A new community is being built about an hour west of Regina, but its only temporary.
K+S Potash is building a camp near Bethune, Sask. large enough to house 1,470 construction workers developing the new Legacy Project mine.
So far, 360 workers are staying at the facility with the remainder of the rooms expected to be completed and occupied by the end of the year.
“1,700 workers travelling everyday by their own cars is really dangerous and expensive for roadwork maintenance,” said Dr. Ulrich Lamp, president and CEO of K+S Potash Canada.
Each room has its own private bathroom, TV and internet connection.
However, as after the mine is built, the small community will likely be torn down or sold.
The reeve for the area said some residents have complained about the increase in traffic and dust in the air.
“Some of it is just growing pains,” said Terry Neugebauer, reeve for the rural municipality of Dufferin.
“Everybody expects a lot out of tax paying dollars and it’s trying to step up and update things. Our roads are in rough shape as it is.”
However, by busing employees to and from the work site, the camp is hoping to address those concerns.
The Saskatchewan economy relies heavily on the potash industry, delivering anywhere from $300 million up to a billion dollars of revenue per year, according to provincial economy minister Bill Boyd.
Despite the recent drop in the price of potash, the Saskatchewan government says the province is on target to meet budget expectations.
“The one thing people in Saskatchewan understand is, prices go up, prices go down, sales improve, sales decrease at certain times,” said Boyd.
The George Gordon First Nation is one of the groups operating the Legacy camp.
“To see a company like K+S step forward and be a part of First Nation involvement in the mining sector… the mining sector has been around for many years and we have not been involved” said Hugh Pratt, councillor for the First Nation.
When the Legacy Project mine begins production in 2016, it will employ about 300 workers.