Ringing up community-focused dollars on Co-op cash registers

In Outlook, Line 3 Replacement Program purchases will build up substantial equity at the Riverbend Co-op

In Outlook, Saskatchewan, the Co-op’s profits are the community’s profits.

And over the next several months, Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Program will help improve the look of that ledger.

The Riverbend Co-op, established in 1930, operates a grocery store, home centre, gas bar, pharmacy, bulk fuel station, and other services in this west-central Saskatchewan town of about 2,200 people.

As it does elsewhere, Co-op membership in Outlook means earnings, in either equity or cash, based on purchases. And in the near future, the L3RP will make Enbridge the Riverbend Co-op’s biggest customer—with the community reaping the benefits.

In early August, construction began on the L3RP in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, including the Outlook area. In Canada, the $5.3-billion project will create thousands of jobs, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, and contribute billions to the Canadian gross domestic product (GDP), in part through economic spinoffs.

“We’ve partnered with Enbridge, and we’ve issued Enbridge their own Co-op number,” says Arielle Annala, grocery manager with Outlook’s Riverbend Co-op. “All of the equity they obtain from spending money at the Co-op—through gas, groceries, and everything else—we’re going to end up donating that money back into the community.

“So (the L3RP) won’t only benefit the Co-op. It’ll benefit everyone in the community.”

With a targeted completion date of 2019, the Line 3 Replacement Program will fully replace 1,660 kilometres (1,031 miles) of Line 3—one of the primary conduits in Enbridge’s Mainline crude oil network—between Hardisty, Alberta and Superior, Wisconsin.

During the construction phase of this project, more than $3 million will be invested in community-focused initiatives in 2017 and 2018 in towns across Canada—initiatives that include training and equipment for fire departments, literacy programs for kids, and upgrades to playgrounds and campgrounds.

The L3RP will also stimulate local and regional economies through the purchase of goods and services that will support construction—as well as the goods and services to clothe, feed and equip several hundred pipeliners for months at a time.

“Outlook has a couple of gas stations, a bakery, a dentist’s office, a lumberyard, plenty of restaurants, a bargain shop . . . people in about three or four surrounding communities come to Outlook almost daily,” says Annala. “The community is really excited . . . everyone in the community has just been waiting for it to happen.”

One of those businesses is a newly opened welding and heavy duty mechanical shop, operated by Annala’s boyfriend and his brother-in-law.

“He opened the business about four months ago. It’s been in the works for a year, and we know we have a lot of work ahead of us,” she says. “The business has a lot to offer the project, and we’ve actually gone out and talked to some people from Enbridge and one of the primary contractors.

“We’re hoping the Line 3 project will have a positive impact on the business. We’re excited and hopeful.”