Estevan, Saskatchewan

March 26, 2024

Estevan, Saskatchewan

Unveiling the Future with Innovation and Resilience


Transforming the economic landscape through strategic innovation, sustainable energy projects, and a commitment to community and environmental stewardship.

Estevan, Saskatchewan, is a vibrant mosaic of economic resilience and natural beauty, encapsulating the essence of a community deeply rooted in its commodity-based economy. At the heart of this thriving city lies a rich history of coal mining and power production, agriculture flourishing with diversity, and a robust oil and gas sector that has weathered the vicissitudes of boom-and-bust cycles. Estevan’s journey from its early days of coal mining to becoming a pivotal power provider to its province through the Boundary Dam and Shand power plants sketches a narrative of innovation and endurance.

Roy Ludwig, Mayor

Mayor Roy Ludwig articulates the essence of Estevan’s economy with clarity and vision, highlighting the city’s foundational sectors: coal mining, agriculture, and oil and gas. “Our city thrives on these industries, but we’re also looking forward, exploring opportunities in nuclear power, wind energy, and solar power,” Mayor Ludwig explains. The transition towards renewable energy sources reflects Estevan’s commitment to adapting and thriving amidst changing environmental policies and the global shift from fossil fuels. The announcement of a new 100-megawatt solar project underscores this commitment to sustainable growth and diversification.

Strategically positioned just 16km from the US border, Estevan leverages its geographical advantage for robust trade and transportation. “Our proximity to the border and direct rail line connection into Mexico positions us uniquely for the transportation of goods, benefiting not just our city but also fostering international trade,” Mayor Ludwig notes. This strategic location enhances Estevan’s economic opportunities, allowing for a seamless flow of commerce from the heart of Canada to the reaches of Mexico.

Embracing Innovation

In the ever-evolving economic landscape of Estevan, the city stands at the forefront of embracing innovative energy solutions. Mayor Ludwig delves into the specifics of Estevan’s ambitious ventures in the energy sector, underscoring the city’s strategic moves toward nuclear power.

“We are currently contenders, alongside Elbow, Saskatchewan, for hosting the province’s first two SMRs – small modular reactors, each with a capacity of 300MW,” he reveals. The anticipation surrounding this potential development is palpable, with the mayor expressing optimism about Estevan being selected for this groundbreaking initiative.

The conversation then shifts to renewable energy, highlighting Estevan’s push to diversify its energy portfolio. Mayor Ludwig shares, “SaskPower has announced plans for a 100-megawatt solar farm, which we are eager to see develop. Additionally, we’re exploring wind energy opportunities.” Despite their intermittent nature, this venture into solar and wind energy represents a balanced approach to meeting the city’s power needs while navigating the challenges of a climate that experiences extreme cold.

Mayor Ludwig addresses the critical need for base load power in Saskatchewan’s harsh winters, advocating for nuclear energy as a viable alternative to coal. “With our shift away from coal, nuclear power emerges as a compelling option for us,” he asserts, acknowledging the industry’s past challenges while highlighting its current safety advancements. “The nuclear industry has implemented numerous safety measures, making it intrinsically safe. Particularly, small modular reactors are designed to shut down automatically in case of anomalies.”

Supporting Small Businesses

Amidst the backdrop of transitioning energy landscapes and ambitious infrastructure projects, the pulse of Estevan’s economy beats strongly within its small businesses. Mayor Ludwig passionately outlines the city’s strategic efforts to bolster small businesses, leveraging a significant provincial grant for economic revitalization.

“With the $8 million fund provided by the province, we’ve been able to support a wide array of businesses,” Mayor Ludwig explains, emphasizing the importance of diversification as Estevan prepares for a future less reliant on fossil fuels. This fund represents a lifeline, enabling local businesses to innovate, expand, and thrive despite global challenges like the transition from fossil fuels and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Estevan supports various local businesses in their growth and expansion. Frame Tech Systems is innovating in construction using steel and aluminum, benefiting from city assistance to buy equipment for larger projects and increasing employment. Global Golf, an indoor sports facility, thrives as a community hub and offers year-round training and entertainment.

By expanding with city support, JS Truck Mart has grown from five to over 25 employees, demonstrating the positive economic impact of supporting diverse businesses. Meanwhile, Legacy Water Care has developed a prototype for cleaner water treatment with the city’s help, embodying Estevan’s commitment to environmental sustainability and job creation in the green technology sector.

From Coal to High-Tech

Mayor Ludwig elaborates on the cutting-edge application of drone technology, a venture supported by the city to enhance safety and efficiency in traditional sectors like oil, gas, and power production. “We’ve facilitated the acquisition of new drones capable of conducting inspections in oil and gas sectors, identifying pipeline leaks, and even inspecting the interior of giant stacks at power plants,” he explains. This mitigates risk by reducing the need for human inspections in hazardous conditions and represents a leap forward in operational safety and environmental monitoring.

Jeff Ward, City Manager

City Manager Jeff Ward interjects, highlighting the significance of this technological shift for the local workforce, particularly coal miners. “This initiative, spearheaded by a former coal miner, exemplifies our commitment to supporting our workforce through the energy transition,” Ward notes. This strategic move towards entrepreneurship and innovation is not just about economic diversification but also about ensuring a smooth transition for those whose livelihoods are intertwined with the fossil fuel industry.

Mayor Ludwig continues, sharing insights into a groundbreaking venture with George Washington University that promises to redefine Estevan’s relationship with coal. “We’re collaborating on a project that uses laser technology to transform lignite coal into graphite, a critical component in battery production,” Ludwig reveals. This initiative aligns with global trends toward electric vehicles and marks a significant shift from coal as a power source to a valuable resource for the burgeoning EV market.

Infrastructure Innovations

In the evolving landscape of Estevan, infrastructure projects are the bedrock upon which the city’s future prosperity is built. City Manager Ward offers a detailed account of the city’s infrastructure initiatives, emphasizing a decade-long commitment to fiscal responsibility and strategic investment.

“We’ve been diligently upgrading our water infrastructure, including a yearly water main replacement program and securing a secondary water source,” Ward shares, highlighting a significant $16 million project that has markedly improved the city’s water quality. These efforts are complemented by a $2 million upgrade to the city’s water tower, ensuring the longevity and reliability of water supply systems.

Regarding wastewater management, Ward discusses an innovative pilot program to enhance environmental stewardship. “We’re piloting a subsurface filtration system for polishing our wastewater before it’s released into the environment,” he explains. This initiative addresses regulatory requirements and showcases Estevan’s forward-thinking approach to managing its ecological footprint.

The conversation shifts to the economic revitalization of Estevan’s downtown, a project buoyed by potential coal transition funding. “We’re in the process of designing our downtown revitalization project, with hopes for funding approval in the upcoming construction season,” Ward notes, illustrating the city’s ambition to rejuvenate its urban core while preserving its historical charm.

Ward also touches on the city’s commitment to recreational and public safety facilities, from the state-of-the-art rink built in 2011 to the recent conversion of buildings into a new fire station and the expansion of the police building. “These projects are part of our yearly infrastructure plans, ensuring our equipment and facilities meet the community’s needs while maintaining fiscal health,” he asserts.


Estevan’s Great Outdoors

With its idyllic landscapes and strategic initiatives, Estevan offers a compelling narrative of a city that harmoniously blends outdoor recreation with urban revitalization. City Manager Ward and Mayor Ludwig elucidate on the vast array of outdoor amenities and the visionary plans for downtown rejuvenation, painting a picture of a community that is as inviting as it is innovative.

Ward takes pride in detailing the diversity of recreational facilities that Estevan boasts, from the state-of-the-art Affinity Place to the award-winning Woodlawn Regional Park’s golf course. “Not far from the city, enveloped by the serenity of nature, the park offers a top-notch golfing experience, enhanced by the picturesque river that meanders through it,” Ward describes, showcasing the city’s commitment to providing exceptional leisure and sporting venues. He notes that the Festival of Lights at Woodlawn Regional Park has become a hallmark event, drawing visitors with enchanting displays.

Diving deeper into the recreational offerings, Ward mentions Boundary Dam’s unique appeal, with activities ranging from boating to ice fishing, thanks to its warm water return that prevents freezing in winter. “This feature allows for unique activities like polar bear dips, making it a news-worthy attraction,” he adds, emphasizing the diverse experiences available to residents and visitors alike. The Estevan Motor Speedway, according to Ward, is another gem, attracting racing enthusiasts from across North America and further enriching the city’s cultural tapestry.

Mayor Ludwig chimes in, highlighting the Boundary Dam’s clubhouse as a linchpin to the city’s ability to deliver beyond expectations. “Our $1 million Golf clubhouse in Woodlawn Regional Park is a marvel,” he boasts, highlighting the city’s prowess in facilitating top-tier recreational activities. This, coupled with the vibrant kayaking scene on the Souris River, exemplifies Estevan’s appeal as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Estavan also boasts Boundary Dam which offers some of the best sports fishing in the region.

Vision 2024

As Estevan stands on the precipice of a transformative year, the city’s leadership is poised with a vision that encapsulates fiscal prudence, economic diversification, and strategic innovation. With a keen focus on operational excellence, City Manager Ward underscores the city’s obligation to fiscal responsibility and the strategic reduction of debt, a foundational approach that has enabled the pursuit of ambitious projects.

“2024 will mark a pivotal year for economic development,” he asserts, drawing attention to the fruition of long-term initiatives that aim to diversify Estevan’s economic base. From the groundbreaking lignite to graphite conversion project to the eagerly awaited announcements regarding small modular reactors (SMRs), the city is on the cusp of welcoming a new era of innovation. Ward reveals discussions with international biomass facilities and the potential establishment of data farms for tech giants, indicating a strategic pivot towards high-tech industries and renewable energy.

Mayor Ludwig echoes this sentiment, expressing excitement for the economic opportunities that have materialized after years of diligent planning and advocacy. The prospect of hosting the province’s inaugural SMRs is a monumental opportunity to catalyze a wave of industrial and technological advancement in Estevan. “Securing the nuclear project is our paramount objective,” he states, emphasizing the transformative impact it would have on local businesses and the broader community.

As Estevan navigates the challenges and opportunities of 2024, the leadership’s unwavering focus on economic diversification, coupled with strategic investments in cutting-edge projects, heralds a promising future. With the anticipation of new council elections, the two leaders are mindful of the need to ensure continuity and the successful implementation of these transformative initiatives. Estevan’s journey reflects a community at the forefront of embracing change, ready to harness the potential of its natural and human resources to build a vibrant, diverse, and sustainable future.


City of Estevan, Saskatchewan

What: A forward-thinking community poised for economic diversification and sustainable development.

Where: Saskatchewan, Canada



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