When we think of a “boomtown,” we often imagine a formerly sleepy rural town suddenly awash in wealth and economic expansion. It might surprise some to learn that for many municipalities in oil-producing regions in Saskatchewan, the costs of servicing the oil boom can outweigh the benefits.
A Prairie Patchwork: Reliance on Oil Industry Philanthropy in Saskatchewan Boom Towns by Simon Enoch and Emily Eaton highlights the uneven costs and benefits of Saskatchewan’s oil boom and bust within oil-producing communities themselves. It finds that urban municipalities in particular were often incapable of capturing sufficient oil revenues to cover the costs associated with a booming oil patch. Instead, many Saskatchewan municipalities have had to rely on oil industry philanthropy for the provision of essential infrastructure and public services that most would consider to be the sole purview of government. This reliance is a direct result of the provincial government’s underfunding of public infrastructure and services and the inability of some local municipalities to capture sufficient revenue from the oil development in their backyards.