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First Impressions Report – Maple Creek ideas

The first two articles in this series looked at the positive remarks and at the suggestions for improvement made by Maple Creek visitors to Unity.

Today, in the last article of the series, we take a look at some ideas Unity visitors to Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, were inspired by, after travelling there for the day Aug. 27, 2014.

Carey Baker, Emma Baker, Nicole Goldsworthy, Sylvia Maljan, Marion Kelly, Sharon Cumming, Femi Ajayi and Helena Long were all part of the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association First Impressions exchange program between the Town of Maple Creek and the Town of Unity. With an eye to reporting back on both the positives and negatives of Maple Creek to potential new residents and investors, at least in terms of “first impressions,” the Unity group split up and spent the day driving and walking the streets, shopping at businesses, eating at cafés and restaurants and interacting with Maple Creek residents.

In the written reports filed by each participant afterwards, as well as discussed at subsequent meetings, the Unity group also looked at ideas from Maple Creek that could benefit Unity.

One promotional item Maple Creek uses received top marks for – an annual event brochure. In Maple Creek, the brochure was made in a triangular shape so it could stand on the tables at restaurants. It was also available at their tourist centre, town office, gas stations and other public places.

A Unity events brochure could include events such as Western Days activities, Celebrate Unity, the fall steak and lobster fundraiser supper, the wildlife supper, music festival, Canada Day activities and others and also a reference to the senior men’s hockey and baseball teams.

Visitors to Unity and potential visitors, like people stopping for fuel at the co-op C-store, picking up a sandwich at Subway or having lunch at the Armada, would get a glimpse into the lives of Unity residents and see some of the sport, recreational and cultural activities offered in town. The brochure would also be a reminder to residents of upcoming events.

Two other relatively inexpensive ideas that could be borrowed from the Town of Maple Creek were district tourism map placemats and a wedding registry.

The placemats at the restaurants in Maple Creek showed the town and all nearby points of interests on a map of the area.

A local kitchen store offered a wedding registry to local couples. Brides and grooms were able to “window shop” through the store and create their wish lists for wedding gifts, which the store then kept on file. Those shopping for shower or wedding gifts for the couple could access the list, which would be updated as purchases were made. The store displayed the list of upcoming marriages, complete with names and dates, so everyone would know who was getting married when.

First Impressions ReportSuch a wedding registry could easily be used in Unity to encourage local shopping for wedding and shower gifts. Although in Maple Creek, one store had taken the initiative, there’s no need to limit the registry to one store. Country Pantry is an obvious choice but North American Lumber, Delta Co-op Unity Home Centre, Crystal Clarity and Wildeman Sports Excellence are all other places one could buy unique and wanted gifts.

Downtown, Maple Creek had some empty storefronts. Many of those storefronts were decorated however, in some cases with large murals painted on the windows. The “first impression” was of a busy Main Street, and not of empty buildings.

First Impressions report

One wall in the museum at Maple Creek features photos of the graduating classes over the years. In Unity, these photos are on display at Unity Composite High School but anyone returning “home” for a visit during the summer months would not be able to see them.

Requiring some investment, and in some cases an entrepreneur, other wish list items included a bakery, a community garden, a splash and skate park, a laundromat and public showers and a tourist information centre.

Improvement is a never-ending process but it is nice to sometimes have some direction as to which way to go next. That’s exactly what the First Impressions program was intended to provide – some direction, whether from the report by Maple Creek residents or from the ideas brought home from Maple Creek by Unity residents.

K.P. Gardens celebrates anniversary – 25 years in business!

Where our Dreams Have Grown

By Nikki Paggett

Colors so bright and smells so sweet
that joy & peace is hard to beat.
Dirt under your nails and sweat on your brow,
when we started, who’d dream we’d be here now!

 With concrete and wood, a dream was sown,
as part of the family, a greenhouse had grown.
It came with its struggles, trials and pain,
but even more, there was so much to gain.

 A small framed shelter, we watched as it grew,
biting off more sometimes, then we knew how to chew.
The square feet expanded, the family got older,
so did our dreams, getting bigger and bolder.

 If this plastic could talk, oh the tales it would share,
memories & moments, more than our hearts could bear.
Under these roofs, more than flowers have grown,
laughter, love and friendship were sown.

 25 years and we’re not done yet,
much more to blossom & memories – you bet!
To this milestone we’ve made it, only together we succeed,
with our family & friends, our hopes and dreams to exceed!

Kathy Paggett and Diane Eby smile at the people lining the route as they ride the K.P. Gardens float in the Unity, Saskatchewan annual Western Days parade, on Saturday, May 31, 2014.

Kathy Paggett and Diane Eby share a chuckle with the people lining the route as they ride the K.P. Gardens float in the Unity, Saskatchewan annual Western Days parade, on Saturday, May 31, 2014.

At K. P. Gardens, customers happily breathe in the aroma of spring as they choose their plants from the great selection that has been given to them in a labour of love from the Paggett family,  serving Unity, Saskatchewan and surrounding area for 25 years.

In their 25 years of being in the greenhouse business, located on Highway 14 just east of Unity, Jim and Kathy Paggett have seen continual changes as K.P. Gardens has evolved into the business it is today.

Starting with a small shed and growing into several buildings has taken commitment, passion for their work and pride in what they do.

In 1994, the big structure that now houses their main greenhouse was erected by Jim and his boys. Year by year more buildings were added, including a perennial house, a tree and shrub structure and, most recently, a lawn accessory area.

The family business started out as just that – Jim, Kathy and their three kids. As the kids grew up and moved on, staff members came on board. K.P. Gardens now employs 11 people in season. Son Steven,  visiting from B.C. with his kids, was also working on their 25th anniversary celebration day. May 24.

Kathy said her staff has grown into her family and she “couldn’t do it without my staff. They spend the off-growing season researching new products and plants and coming up with ideas for the displays and new ventures they might take on the next spring. It’s a combined effort. Each year we try a little something new in plants, displays and products to keep our customers always wanting to return to a fresh and new look as well as wanting to return for their old favourites.”

Their season is definitely affected by the weather. Whether Mother Nature delivers drought conditions or a cold spring, K.P. Gardens forges on. It is one of the reasons for their longevity – always being there for the customer regardless of what the weather might bring.

Plants are started in February and the staff begins working in March. The greenhouse season to customers may seem like a short one, running from April to the end of July, but it is a year-round process for the Paggetts. Following the selling season, Kathy starts planning for the next growing season, placing her orders, visiting greenhouse shows and designing the product layout and sales features for the following spring. And there is always building and yard maintenance.

K.P. Gardens helps out in the community by donating and assisting with flowers for long term care, the museum grounds and the hospital. Kathy also does some custom growing of orders given for special occasions or people’s yards. This year she held some potting classes that included a mom’s and tots group.

K.P. GardensJim and Kathy have no plans to slow down as they love the business they are in, they have developed great relationships with their customers and their staff have become like extended family. Their customer base has grown as other greenhouse operations have closed; they even have shoppers coming from Provost, Lloydminster and North Battleford.

Everyone, regardless of where they hail from, is treated with the same down-home, friendly and knowledgeable service. ensuring K.P. Gardens is sure to be around for many more years of shopping pleasure for gardeners.

NWT posts profitable financial results for 2013

 The board of directors of North West Terminal Ltd. is pleased to announce positive financial results for the company following operations in 2012-13. For the period beginning Nov. 1, 1012 and ending Oct. 31, 2013, NWT posted net revenues from consolidated operations of $133.5 million and an EBITDA of $9,136,654. This resulted in a net profit of $4,762,492, or $1.45 per share.

The financial performance of the company is behind the same period last year when the company posted revenues from operations of $132.7 million, an EBITDA of $11,422,627 and a net profit of $5,329,571, or $1.63 per share. Management reported earnings were down from the previous year primarily because of reduced shipping and tighter margins in both the grain and bio-products divisions. The overall reduction in profits was offset by dividends from investments and revenue from a leasing arrangement for the purposes of transloading crude oil.

“The board of directors is very pleased with the company’s financial performance,” says NWT’s President John Leier. “It should be noted that these results are for the past fiscal year. We are finding the current year somewhat more challenging with all the shipping delays that are being experienced. NWT continues to work hard on adding value and improving service for farmers from this region of the province. That is one of the major advantages of being a locally owned company as this is our primary focus.” Leier farms near Denzil.

North West Terminal

NWT is an independent farmer-shareholder owned company headquartered near Unity. It owns and operates an inland grain terminal and a bio-production facility at its Unity location.

Housing, especially rentals, in short supply

Unity’s economic development officer, Carey Baker, has been running an advertisement in the paper, looking for rental property.

He maintains a rental registry at the town office and says “interest has definitely increased over the past few weeks.” Lately, he gets requests almost daily for information on homes to rent.

The demand for rentals in Unity exceeds the supply.

no vacancy

The question arises, with industry continuing to expand in Unity, how do businesses attract new employees? Where do new residents find living arrangements?

Last week, a homeowner posted the availability, for rent, of a a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, on the Unity Online Yard Sale Facebook page. The homeowner justified the rent of $1,000, saying, “I had about 6 people basically fighting over renting it last time. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable considering there are people in unity renting out rooms for 700.” Someone else responded, “That’s cheap for rent you should have no problem renting it out.”

Baker believes “a very real constraint to our growth as a community is our low availability of rental housing options.”

Joe Reddecopp, general manager at Delta Co-op, said working with new hires to help them find rentals or homes “has been challenging. Rentals are very hard to come by, and housing is more expensive than individuals expect it to be.”

Baker “would be interested in discussing the possibility of rental construction with individuals and I do have some possible locations for multi-unity dwellings to consider.”

Last year, there were six new houses in Unity, with two additional plans for homes being filed at the end of the year. The town is also progressing towards development of a new residential subdivision, although the timeline for availability of land for construction is still unclear.

The Town of Unity has had an infill housing incentive in place for several years. By building on an empty lot in an established area of town, property tax is charged at the vacant lot rate for both the year of construction and the following year. The same two-year tax benefit applies to lots where an older and often poorly maintained home is demolished to allow for construction of a new home.

The housing shortage is not limited to Unity and its neighbouring communities. In a press release issued Feb. 11, following the tabling of the federal budget, Claude Dauphin, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said the 2014 federal budget, as tabled, fell short of addressing the growing housing crisis, “failing to include any targets, timelines or a commitment to a long-term housing plan.”

Town imposed environmental fees going up in 2014

The Town of Unity passed a new bylaw Jan. 28, increasing the environmental levy fees for residents and businesses.

Town of UnityResidents will see a modest increase of $1 per month, paying $18 every three months, up from $15 per quarter.

The minimum businesses will pay is also $18 per quarter, but businesses deemed to be medium or high use recyclers will see significant increases. To qualify for theminimum fee of $18 per quarter levy, businesses need to have only one to two bags of recyclables per week.

Businessesw ith three to four bags of recyclables a week fall into the medium category and will be charged $126 per quarter. Five or more bags of recyclables per week puts a business into the high category. These businesses will pay $270 per quarter, or over $1,000 annually.

All businesses should have received a letter from the Town of Unity advising them of the changes and of their category. Business owners or managers who disagree with the category decided by the town can appeal.

An appeal form was included with the letters sent to businesses. To make an appeal, the business must fill out the form and give facts and reasons for their request to be in a lower category than the one assigned by the town. Appeal forms must be returned to the town office before March 3.

Businesses who have their own contracts with recyclers will still have to pay the minimum charge of $18 per quarter.

For now, the town will continue to use the community Loraas bins as its recycling method. Administrator Aileen Garrett said that could still change and a town owned recycling building in the future has still not been ruled out.

Should the new environmental fees create a profit for the town, Garrett said the money would be transferred to a reserve for the future. She noted, however, “if our recycling program is abused, additional costs are incurred as the town is penalized.”

Not only does Loraas charge a penalty if bins are contaminated with non-recyclables, but when garbage is left at the bin site, town employees have to be paid and have to take time from their regular duties to clean it up.

Changes on Main Street – possible new opportUNITY

Main Street in the Unity downtown has seen many businesses come and go over the years. From furniture stores and ladies’ dress shops years ago to the loss of Ultra Sports, Ridgeline Engineering and Jig’s Variety Store last year, business closures are generally a sad event for the community, the town and the customers.

On the other side of the coin, when an empty downtown building is filled with a new business, it creates optimism for everyone – the new business owners, the town, residents and even surrounding businesses. Last year, we saw Special Event Rentals, Crossfit Lair and Wildeman Sports Excellence all take up space and open their doors on Main Street. Just off Main Street, Family Foods also opened last year.

Lindsey Deroo

Along with other changes on Main Street in Unity, Saskatchewan, this former ladies’ wear shop is now a fitness facility. Lindsey Deroo opened up Crossfit Lair in May of last year, 2013.

There is still room for new business on Main Street and Sister’s Flowers will be closing soon, creating another vacancy. Of course Main Street is not the only place to have a business, as the opening of Family Foods proved, and there is other space available in town too.

The town’s economic development officer, Carey Baker, has done some research into potential businesses, businesses which do not currently exist in Unity. One business he believes would be a wonderful addition to the town and surrounding area is a family entertainment centre.

The family entertainment centre concept he has looked at is a mixed bowling and indoor playground facility, with two to four lanes of contemporary bowling, including electronic scorekeeping and glow in the dark options, and an indoor playground, such as might be found at some Burger King and McDonald’s venues, as well as a lounge and concession area.

Daycares, seniors, families, special needs, schools and special event parties would be some of the potential users of such a facility.

Baker has done some preliminary work on a business proposal for a family entertainment centre and would like to speak to people who might be interested in looking at this particular opportunity. In an email, he says this business “is one that I am particularly interested in and believe would be a great addition to the region. I cannot state specifically that the Family Centre is feasible, but would be happy to provide the information I have gathered, contacts, etc., and would assist interested individual(s) to further the study of its feasibility.”

Whether you would like to look at the details on the family entertainment centre or simply want more information in general about opening a new business in Unity, Baker can be contacted at the town office, 306-228-2621 or online at unity.economic@sasktel.net.

Celebrate Unity 2014 planning underway

Do you know somebody who makes Unity a better place, or a business celebrating a milestone anniversary? The honouree list for Celebrate Unity 2014 is being finalized so if you have a suggestion or nomination, please contact  committee chair, Gerald Hauta at 306-228-2688 or, by email, Gerald.hauta@unitycu.ca. You can also use the comment form on the chamber webpage: http://unitystories.com/chamber-of-commerce/.

Some individuals will be honoured for exemplary service, new businesses and those celebrating special anniversaries will be congratulated and committees who have hosted provincial events will be recognized.

Celebrate Unity 2014The gala evening, put on by the Unity and District Chamber of Commerce, will include a catered supper, the recognition/celebration program, a service auction and entertainment.

Hoja, the three-man cappella group who performed to rave reviews at Celebrate Unity last year, is returning for the 2014 event which will be held at the Unity Community Centre March 3. Hoja sings virtually every style of music, as well as vocalizing instrument sounds and other noise effects.

Last year’s Celebrate Unity audience was captivated by the talent of this Calgary, Alta., group. As the chamber-sponsored celebratory evening is open for any and all community members to attend, Celebrate Unity 2014 event is your chance to hear Hoja’s amazing talents live and in person if you missed out last year – or to enjoy them again if you were lucky enough to be in the audience last year.

Businesses and individuals willing to donate time and talent for this year’s service auction are asked to contact Geraldine Barrett at 306-228-2808 or, by email, sunrisewellnessspa@sasktel.net. Service items auctioned off last year included a half day of housecleaning, holiday decorating, cakes made to order and an afternoon of yardwork.

Celebrate Unity is your chance to come and celebrate the successes of your friends and neighbours, hear talented visiting musicians and bid on unique auction items.

Tickets for Celebrate Unity 2014 will soon be available – watch for ads and posters. In the meantime, mark March 3 in your calendar!

Heitts Plumbing and Heating

“In 1961, Uncle Ben Knorr started a plumbing and heating business in a small shop”, said Glen Heitt. Although long since outgrown, that building is still used today by Heitts Plumbing and Heating, for cold storage.

Brothers Glen and Larry took over the business in 1981, and today have 12 employees, including themselves. Stan Weber, a journeyman plumber, is the longest serving employee and a shareholder in the company.Heitts Plumbing and Heating

Glen’s and Larry’s wives, Wanda and Sheila can be found at the front counter, looking after customers and the books.

Glen and Wanda are avid curlers, competing each year in events that could lead them to provincial competition. Wanda has even competed nationally in senior women’s curling. Glen is president of the Unity Curling Club.

Larry and Sheila are also curlers but prefer the more recreational role.

The business offers residential and commercial plumbing, as well as all kinds of heating – forced air, boiler heaters, floor heating, radiant garage heating, unity heating and propane and natural gas heating. They also do residential and commercial air conditioning. They deal with farm well septic pumps and constant pressure pumps, water conditioning systems, whole house RO septic and have a complete line of service equipment for drain cleanings with a roto-rooter.

Heitts Plumbing and HeatingA variety of barbecues and accessories can be found in the showroom. They carry many “do it yourself” products to help out the handy man. They also carry, or can access, a full line of plumbing fixtures, taps, showers, tubs and steam showers.

One of their greatest strengths is personal contact with customers. They pride themselves on jobs well-done and seeing satisfaction from the people they work for.

They’ve been commended for the promptness of service calls – no matter the hour or day – when a furnace quits or a water heater stops working. Customers remark on the minimal impact their work has on a household, as Heitts’ staff are dedicated to ensuring as little disruption as possible.

Along with running their service-oriented business, the Heitts are known for sponsoring many community events and activities.

199 2nd Avenue East, Unity, Saskatchewan – 306-228-2441

Heitts Plumbing & Heating

Gilbert Agencies – insurance, SGI licences and more

Scott at Gilbert Agencies in Unity says it’s been “Our family taking care of other families for nearly 40 years in this community.”

Located downtown on 2nd Avenue West in Unity, Gilbert Agencies was birthed in 1976, by Scott Gilbert’s uncle, Alex. After being employed by his uncle, Scott went to a partnership share before purchasing the business outright in 2001.

Gilbert Agencies employs three people full-time with a staff combined years of service of 45. Now that’s experience you can count on!

Gilbert Agencies is a general insurance brokerage as well as an SGI motor licence issuer. Scott is a notary public and a sub-broker for Desjardins Financial Investments. He has his CAIB (Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker) designation.

Gilbert Agencies is committed to helping people solve and complete their insurance needs. Their goal is satisfied customers and that requires providing top-notch service, price and product variety, which they do.

Gilbert Agencies, Unity

Scott loves to meet different people and embraces the different personalities he’s encountered through business, recreation and volunteerism.

One thing he loves about living in and doing business in Unity is the “I’ve got your back” philosophy. This is the same way insurance agencies want their customers to feel. It’s easy to relay that to customers in a community that regularly exhibits these qualities in efforts to help friends and neighbours.

Scott was born and raised in Unity. He’s proud of the community and proud to be part of it. He was happy to return home to start his career and raise his family.

You can always find Scott volunteering somewhere as he believes in hands-on involvement in the community he serves. He wants to be not only visible, but involved. You can find Scott anywhere, from coaching a hockey team to the UPS School Community Council. He serves, and has served, on a number of boards within Unity and provincially.

Gilbert Agencies is a proud sponsor of a number of community functions. It is their sense of community pride that prompts them to sponsor community events, groups and functions.

Fun facts about Scott? He raced bobsleds competitively in the Alberta Cup series for two years while taking his schooling in Calgary and he was a Celebrity Bull Rider at Unity Western Days!

Scott Gilbert

Delta Co-op – happy to be part of the community

Delta Co-operative Ltd.

Come on in! Welcome to our story, which is your story too. We live where you live, work where you work and we are helping grow the local economy. We are your neighbours and we invest in the communities we serve.

We say “we” but really … it’s you. Delta Co-op is really yours, because you own it. If you’re a member, you’re an owner. If you’re not a member, we invite you to become one. Delta Co-op membership offers you a lifetime of rewards, including high quality products and services at competitive prices. Our profits are your profits, returned by way of dividends paid out at year-end.

Understand when we say “we”, we’re actually saying you AND us – working, shopping, profiting, decision-making, helping out our communities – together.

Delta Co-op works together to provide goods and services to the community in the most up-to-date manner. We can be found online at our website, http://deltacoop.ca/, on Facebook and even on your phone! Look for “co-op CRS” at your app store and download it, free, for weekly coupons, flyers, locations, hours and much more.

Delta Co-op is proud to support the communities we serve, and neighbouring communities, with sponsorships, donations, advertising and by hosting fundraising barbecues.

We’ve been part of the local community for over 80 years. Delta Co-op is a multi-branch, multi-department retail co-operative.

co-op c-store2

With branches in Unity, Luseland, Senlac, Wilkie and Macklin, Delta has deli, bakery, produce, meat and grocery departments, building supply and hardware stores, an agro-centre with seed and feed supplies, cardlocks, a C-store and gas bars. See our special page at wilkiestories.com for details on what services we provide in each of our home communities: http://unitystories.com/delta-co-op/. Phone numbers for all locations are at http://unitystories.com/delta-co-op/locations/.

This corner of the province is our home. We promise to stay local, committed to community and to a business model that shares profits with all members. It’s only $10 to become a shareholder in Delta Co-op, making you a part owner in each and every one of our locations.

Remember, at Delta Co-op, co-op red sheild