Standing (left to right): Brian Chalmers, SCC Board; Curtis Hemming, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce; Randy Beattie, PFM Capital; John Hopkins, Regina Chamber of Commerce; Richard Turkheim, Ministry of First Nations and Metis Relations; Geoff Gay, Athabasca Basin Development; Bruce Johnstone, Regina Leader Post; Mike Makowsky, Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure; Steve McLellan, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce; Barry Berglund, CTV. Sitting (left to right): Fred Titanich, CAA Saskatchewan; Don Deranger, Prince Albert Grand Council; Denise Stroeder, Tourism Saskatchewan; Glen Strong, Athabasca Basin Development; Saskatoon MLA Rob Norris, Legislative Secretary to the Premier on First Nations Relations.

Athabasca Tour Highlights Potential of Region

September 3, 2012 in News
Explorer: Fall 2012

On a recent tour through the Athabasca region, three things struck the group from Saskatchewan’s South: the breathtaking scenery, the challenges and positive attitudes of the people across the communities and the vast potential of the area.

“My inaugural trip to Northern Saskatchewan is one that I will never forget,” says Denise Stroeder, Industry Development for Tourism Saskatchewan. “It is not only the breathtaking scenery that we were so fortunate to have seen, but also meeting such warm and welcoming people in each community. I think we have the opportunity to do something really fantastic, while preserving the natural ecosystem at the same time. This was truly the trip of a lifetime!”

On August 1, fifteen people from Saskatoon and Regina’s business communities boarded a plane and began a two-day trip to Saskatchewan’s northernmost region. Sponsored by Cameco, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and Athabasca Basin Development, the purpose of the tour was to educate southern delegates about Saskatchewan’s least disturbed region, highlight the local successes, learn about the challenges, and promote the potential of the area. Participants included representatives from Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Athabasca Basin Development, the Saskatoon and Regina Chambers of Commerce, SaskTourism, SaskHighways, FMNR, media and the Provincial Government.

The two–day tour began at Wollaston Lake, and included stops at Stony Rapids and Black Lake, with a chance to experience traditional cuisine and meet with dignitaries from the communities. In talking to residents of the region, one subject in particular came up again and again: the need for all–season roads into the Athabasca communities.

“My inaugural trip to Northern Saskatchewan is one that I will never forget.”

Denise stroeDer, Industry Development for Tourism Saskatchewan

Stopping by the local stores, tour participants got a first–hand look at the prices in the grocery stores. The price of milk — up to a high of $17.95 in Fond du Lac, was an example that stood for many of the challenges faced by the region.

“As we saw today, the prices in grocery stores are absolutely scary,” says Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. “The cost of food is a simple indicator of a huge challenge that can be remedied at least in part by better road access. Better roads will also make the expansion opportunities much greater for exploration and mining.”

The tour ended with a short break at Hatchet Lake Lodge, a luxury fly–in fishing lodge located on its own island. Participants also got a chance to fly over local natural wonders such as Hunts Falls, Douglas River and the Athabasca Sand Dunes.

Chances are good a tour of this type will happen again. “I’m pleased that everyone took time out of their busy schedule to learn more about the Athabasca region,” says Geoff Gay, CEO of Athabasca Basin Development. “As participants were able to see first hand, there is incredible opportunity in the region that is currently untapped. I’d like to sincerely thank Cameco and the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring this tour with us. We are very happy with how it went and we feel that it is something we’d like to do more of in the future.”