Saskatchewan Megaprojects in the 1980s: the Ugly, the Bad, and the Good
Canada has had a troubled history of governments pursuing megaprojects that entail large losses of taxpayer money, leading politicians later to bemoan the fact that the project should never have been undertaken. Would better advance assessment avoid such losses? This paper looks at the question in the context of the history of three energy-related megaprojects in Saskatchewan in the 1980s: the NewGrade Heavy Oil Upgrader, the Bi- Provincial Heavy Oil Upgrader and rural gasification, respectively the Ugly, the Bad and the Good. The two upgraders were undertaken at a time of serious economic malaise in the province. The desire to build the economy and create sustainable jobs may have blinded political leaders to the reality that these projects did neither, at least at the time they were being built and for the first decade of their existence. The rural gasification initiative had much more sound economic rationale and a more defensible role for the government.