Marketing Wakaw through Walk-aw Days

The first of three “Walk”-aw Days was held on June 1st in conjunction with the regular Saturday Farmers’ Market and the Wheatland Express Excursion Train’s first of the season, Train Heist. The Wheatland Express promoted “Walk”-aw Day on their website saying, “It’s a heartwarming experience bringing our community together in laughter and camaraderie.” Some merchants felt the wind, kept some people away from the event, “Walk”-aw Day was a success, even with the wind, said Recreation & Community Development Manager, Dwane Burke. He felt the wind probably impacted the number of people attending to some extent, but the schedules of families and individuals also played a part. For example, Wakaw Minor Softball U7 and U9 (three teams in total, approximately 25 families) were in Langham for a ball tournament and the Wakaw youth football was in Melfort for the day. There could have been the same numbers even if the weather was perfect. Regardless of the numbers, Burke said the day had positive returns. Many families were exploring the area together and the advertising efforts put into the day had Wakaw in the ears and eyes of people who never intended to come out to Wakaw for the day.

The costs of hosting a single “Walk”-aw Day, to the town are minimal. The META (Facebook) ad is $36. The two porta-potties, that are new this year, were and will be located across the street from the lumber yard. The only cost for this addition is $100 to have the units emptied following the day and $180 to have them cleaned and prepped. Wakaw Lake Regional Park has provided these two units for use this summer at no charge. Besides the financial resources, the day involves some assistance from public works to prepare, for example, moving porta-potties into and out of place, and other tasks that come up. The day also requires Burke to work for the day placing barricades and signs.

Marketing Wakaw as a place to live and conduct business is vital to economic growth and development. The Town of Wakaw Councillors and Mayor encourage entrepreneurs in all industries to investigate Wakaw as an option to set up. The community is making strides, and there is more work to come. Priority work concerning housing, childcare, micro-manufacturing, large industry, and hotel development are the council’s goal areas they are working to achieve. Everyone is invited to pass this along, especially to those you know in any of these or other industries.

The Town of Wakaw works closely with many partners with common goals and interests. These include, but are not limited to, Carlton Trail College, Saskatchewan Economic Development Alliance, Humboldt Newcomers, and Sagehill Community Futures, in addition to working with our neighbouring communities on various items. Recent new business launches include the Espresso Café and the Wakaw Wellness Club.

In April, Wakaw Mayor Markowski with Councillors Romanchuk, Parenteau, Michayluk and CAO Dieno with Community Economic Development Manager Burke met with Minister of Sasktel Minister Duncan and Sasktel to discuss cellular and internet services. The Town of Wakaw and the Rural Municipality of Hoodoo have been asking for improvements to the service for several years. Excitedly, the group shared the news that Wakaw would receive a new cellular tower. The goal to be operational by the end of this June, moved closer to realization this past week when crews began erecting the new cellular tower. Sasktel is initiating and leading this process. The tower will serve the town and immediate area, freeing up the tower outside of town to serve the lake area and other rural customers. This addition will be of significant benefit to residents, businesses and visitors.

Also announced in April, Wakaw is included in Phase 7 of the Rural Fibre Initiative meaning the town will be fibre-ready by the end of 2027. This service, or services from other service providers, bringing fibre optics to the area will provide greater opportunities for living, working, investing and playing here. Also included in Phase 7 are the towns of Birch Hills, Middle Lake, and St. Louis.

Originally announced in 2020, the Rural Fibre Initiative is a multi-phase program that will see SaskTel invest $280 million to expand its infiNET network to nearly 200 communities across the province. Sasktel anticipates all communities included in the Rural Fibre Initiative will be fibre-ready by the end of 2027. On April 15th, SaskaTel announced an additional investment of $80 million in the Rural Fibre Initiative to expand SaskTel infiNET service to another 61 communities. This investment will bring advanced fibre optic broadband connectivity to more than 22,000 additional homes and businesses.

Phases 5 and 6 of the Rural Fibre Initiative are slated to be completed by the end of March 2025 with the communities of Aberdeen, Bruno, Cudworth, Hague, Hepburn, Vonda, and Waldheim scheduled to be fibre-ready. (https://www.sasktel.com/personal/internet/infinet-availability/infinet-availability)

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wakaw Recorder