At the latest council meeting, Mel Murray on behalf of Estevan Minor Baseball (EMB) requested a loan of $21,000 from the city to purchase shale for the Cactus and Lynn Prime Ball Diamonds for a pair of upcoming tournaments.

In 2023, EMB received a loan of $15,000 to provide upgrades to Panteluk and Lynn Prime Ball Diamonds. The agreement was that EMB would pay $3,000 a year for the next five years, starting in 2024.

There were mixed reactions from the council about the late notice on the propsed loan. 

“Personally, I would like to see these requests coming to our managers late summer or early fall so that they can be incorporated into the annual budgeting process. Our managers do begin very early each year creating their plan for the following year. And especially this year with an election coming up there will be a new council looking at spending. So for me, I would like to see this as a request in the next budget,” said Councillor Kristen Walliser.

She also questioned whether or not some costs could be subsidized by using city staff to truck the shale to the diamonds.

“We do not currently have the truck drivers needed to do this, so if we are to move forward, then I would recommend that we include it as a part of the cost that we would outsource the trucking as well,” said city manager Jeff Ward.

Councillor Lindsay Clark said that he was in favour of giving EMB the loan to complete the upgrades.

“I just want to say that I’m in support of helping Estevan Minor Ball for the reason that what they do is strictly for the community and if we can find a way to do this to help them out, I would certainly be in support of that,” said Clark. 

Councillor Rebecca Foord questioned why a project considered a high-priority item wasn’t in the budget for this year. 

“We talked about it, but our bathrooms are our main concern, and with our bathrooms, they went over budget as it was. And there was just no more money left,” said Murray.

Foord also inquired as to whether EMB could financially handle two loans, as the cost would come to $6,000 a year plus their regular fees.

“Yes. We’ve looked at that, we figure we can handle that. Hoping after this tournament, these two tournaments, we can pay back more than this $6,000.”

He noted that around 2007, EMB borrowed $250,000, and that was paid back in five years.

Councillor Tony Sernick asked if these upgrades were necessary for this year. Murray reiterated that it is a necessary upgrade as the diamonds are now down to the clay.

Clark also noted that two back-to-back tournaments would bring in additional tourism to the city. Adding that if each of the 24 teams a brings additional people with them thousands of dollars will go into the community as people will be enjoying restaurants, hotels, and other amenities.

“We're doing it at a different level and when people are coming to our community, they're expecting it to be better than what we normally would, you know, have if we were just doing it as a recreational thing. So, I think that's what we are trying to do more than anything is make it so all our facilities are respected. Around the province and around Western Canada even,” said Clark.

The loan was approved, and EMB has agreed to pay the loan back at a rate of $3,000 a year for the next seven years, beginning in 2025.