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Hardisty, Alberta – the major oil hub in Canada that serves as the basis for the Canadian oil benchmark – doesn’t have a school anymore, and the community fears that without a school, the town will struggle to attract more residents.
Canada’s oil delivered at Hardisty, Alberta, serves as the basis of forming Western Canadian Select (WCS), the benchmark price of Canada’s heavy oil.
The Battle River School Division board of trustees approved in March the closure of the Hardisty Allan Johnstone K-9 School, despite the fact that the oil industry employs a lot of people in the town.
Battle River School Division’s board of trustee said in March that the school had 48 students, a number below critical enrolment levels in all areas.
“Without a school, you don't really have a viable town life,” the mayor of Hardisty, Doug Irving, told CBC News’ Janet French.
According to residents, the simple solution to the school problem in Hardisty would be redrawing the school division boundaries because under current boundaries, students from Hardisty ride the bus 32 kilometers (20 miles) to the west while the boundary with the neighboring Buffalo Trail school division to the east – where some parents prefer to send their children to school – is just four kilometers (2.5 miles) away from Hardisty.
Coincidentally, the closure of the only school in Alberta’s most important oil hub was decided in March, when oil prices crashed and hurt Alberta’s oil industry and economy hard.
Earlier this month, a poll showed that the majority of people in Alberta saw their economic fortunes worsened after the pandemic and the oil price crash, compared to a national average of 35 percent who consider they are worse off compared to last year.
According to a new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, 17 percent of Canadians said that their economic fortunes improved over the last year. But twice as many—35 percent—feel that their economic fortunes have worsened. The number of those negatively impacted rises to 51 percent in Alberta, the poll showed.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com