In 1984 the federal government made a decision to close several Canadian Forces Stations located along what was then known as the Northern Pine Tree Line. For our region, that meant that the Canadian Forces Station Dana would close. That closure meant an immediate loss of 400 people in the region, 42 civilian jobs and millions of dollars that would no longer be spent in our local economy. Many described this as a "catastrophic" event for our region.
The communities most affected included Bruno, Cudworth, Prud’homme, Vonda, Meacham, Colonsay, Viscount and Wakaw. In an attempt to counteract the negative impact on the local economy of the closure of CFS Dana the federal government invited the local communities to use a programming tool called a Labor Market Adjustment Strategy.
Representatives from the Towns of Bruno, Cudworth, Colonsay, Vonda and Wakaw as well as the Villages of Prud’homme, Viscount and Meacham joined the Rural Municipalities of Bayne, Hoodoo, Grant, Colonsay, and Fish Creek to begin a planning process to address the closure of CFS Dana.
Through the 12 months that followed, our local municipal representatives completed a study to determine what strategies might be best implemented to ensure that the local economy could stay strong after the closure of CFS Dana. One of the strategies was to make application for Community Futures status. This federal program was administered by Employment & Immigration and provided funding to regions that were experiencing a traumatic labor market event and consequently had an unemployment rate higher than the provincial average.
At the time only 1 region in Saskatchewan had been accepted into the Community Futures Program - the area around Broadview. Our local committee arranged for a representative from the Broadview region to talk with us about the benefits of the program. On the strength of that presentation and the ideas raised in the study our local municipal representatives made application for Community Futures status.
To honour the important contribution that the CFS Dana had made to the region the name 'Sagehill' was chosen for the Community Futures office; as the name "Sagehill" was assigned to identify the community (and the post office) at CFS Dana.
The Sagehill region was awarded Community Futures status in 1985, and the formational committee offical became the Sagehill Community Futures committee.
Achieving Community Futures status meant the Committee could access specific government programs that would provide seed money for positive community development. The municipal representatives and Committee members dedicated countless unpaid hours to this project knowing they had been given an incredible opportunity to make a difference.
There were two major outcomes of the Sagehill Community Futures Committee work: to engage positive community development strategies to assist local municipalities to help grow our communities, and to establish a business development center.
The members of the committee felt that historically our region was very entrepreneurial and given some additional tools would rise to new opportunity.
The members of the Sagehill Community Futures Committee were successful in their bid to create a Business Development Center and the doors opened, December 13, 1989, with the goals of providing financing, counseling and training for new and existing business owners. There were two staff members.
Between 1989 and 1994 two boards operated: the Sagehill Community Futures Committee (18 board members) and the Sagehill Business Development Center (7 Members).
The Directors for both Boards were appointed by the 13 municipal members. Through those four years the Boards realized that their work had significant overlap and met several times to determine whether the current structure was appropriate moving forward and the best use of resources. During this time they also received a number of requests from neighboring municipalities to join the region.
So in 1994, the Boards amalgamated into one organization called the Sagehill Development Corporation, with a mandate to encourage positive community and business development.
At that time, an inaugural board of 7 people was selected by the 13 municipal members to lead the Sagehill Development Corporation.
In 1994, the Sagehill region also expanded from the original 13 municipalities to 72; today the region includes 75 municipalities. Around this same time, the federal government changed the responsibility for the Community Futures Program from Employment & Immigration to Western Economic Diversification, now known as Prairies Economic Development Canada.
Since then, Community Futures Sagehill's programs, services and circumstances have changed, as has the world around us. What has remained constant is that Sagehill has been extremely well served by the volunteers who commit their time and energy to help build our communities.
The members of the Sagehill board of directors and staffs strongly believe it is our duty to be good stewards, and to deliver local and effective services that provide the individuals of our region with the critical tools and support they need to achieve dreams and goals.
The people who volunteer their time, experience and energy to Community Futures Sagehill by serving as members of the Board occupy a very special position within our organization. They have a unique challenge to lead, to counsel and to serve.