Clemons was using the term “sweet spot” as a way to illustrate the need for community leaders to know who they are and their place in the community in order to provide the most effective service.

 

“The main issue for me (…) is to help the town doctor find some help,” said Al Heron, Mayor of Eston.

 

Eston’s population has increased roughly 15 per cent in the last five years according to recent health card registration predictions and the only doctor in town is over 80 years old. The town, which now boasts a population of roughly 1,150 has been trying to recruit a new doctor since the spring.

 

And Eston is not alone. Heron, also SUMA director for the west central region, said that there are another 24 communities in just the west central health region, with only one or two doctors, who are having similar problems. There are five more SUMA districts throughout the province.

 

Eston has tried to recruit doctors and has spoken with provincial health committees about receiving assistance with its recruitment efforts.

 

“We’re not being treated equally,” said Heron. He said he was told that the province only helps communities who have four doctors or more.

 

Heron said the issue was raised at a SUMA meeting in December but did not make it on the convention agenda.

 

“It’s a process that’s on going,” said Heron. “I doubt it’s going to get fixed at this point.”

 

The 107th annual SUMA convention, held in Regina this year, was titled Urban Matters: A growing agenda and focuses on dealing with the effects of growing communities, while offering leaders a chance to network and discuss their own issues and solutions to various problems.

 

“(Growth) creates problems, but it is also exciting,” said Lt.-Gov. Gordon L. Barnhart, summing up the issues facing many Saskatchewan communities in his opening ceremonies speech.

 

Priorities on the convention agenda were the growing demands on infrastructure, affordable and sufficient housing, recycling, and intergovernmental co-operation.

 

Fortunately for Eston, water and waste water treatment, important infrastructure issues plaguing other communities at the 2012 SUMA convention, are not a concern. It is way ahead of the curve.

 

Heron said Eston teamed up with Kindersley, in 1964, to secure a federal grant for $75,000 toward a new water system for the towns. The innovative part of the project, at that time, was the co-operation between the two communities.

 

The project has been built gradually, but with a long term perspective. Eston’s final portion of the project, a new water treatment plant, was finished three years ago and Kindersley’s is almost done. Yet, both towns are currently only using about 60 per cent of the available system most of the year, according to Heron, leaving lots of room for growth.

 

head shot Elise ThomsenElise Thomsen (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is a contributing reporter and photographer for the University of Regina School of Journalism’s 2012 news service for weekly newspapers in Saskatchewan. She is from Michigan, and has spent 16 weeks in the newsroom of Jamac Publishing in Kindersley and another eight weeks at the Weyburn Review on internship. She will graduate this spring with a particular interest in reporting on important community developments, the arts, and human rights issues.