It pays to live in Pipestone — literally.
Any renter or homeowner who has lived in the rural municipality for a year or more will pocket $500 this fall, thanks to a grant program created by the RM. It’s the second year in a row the local municipal government has decided to share its oil revenues with local residents. The $500 in cash will be doled out on a household basis with one grant made available per dwelling, or unit within a rental dwelling.
But this isn’t just extra cash for Christmas shopping.
Officials are encouraging residents to donate, at their own discretion, their grants to local groups needing support, said the municipality’s economic development officer Tanis Chalmers. People often say the RM should support certain initiatives and organizations, she said.
“This is to encourage people to give back to the community into places where they felt it was needed,” Chalmers said.
“It gives ownership to the community to put that money where they feel it should be.”
Last year, people turned their $500 over to organizations such as the local day care and arena, often splitting it several different ways, she added. Many things need support, from local halls and churches to recreation facilities and the community foundation. People could even choose to contribute to infrastructure upgrades such as the water pipeline or paving of streets.
The $500 won’t just appear in the mailbox either. Residents must apply by Dec. 12 and show proof of residency. To be eligible, residents have to be up to date on their taxes and not owe debts to the RM. Approval of grants is at the discretion of its Community Development Corporation.
Last year approximately $300,000 was budgeted for the $500 grant program.
“It was well used. I don’t believe they used all of that but just about,” said Chalmers.
The cash outlay is another of the “off beat” things that have generated headlines this fall about the southwestern RM.
The council was expected to learn this week if they had serious takers on another veritable giveaway — 24 serviced residential lots available for $10 each.
The municipality has had about four million hits to its website since mid-September, and hundreds of callers expressing interest. Those who qualify for the bargain have 90 days to build a foundation and 12 months to construct their home.
Reeve Ross Tycoles said their RM is able to do these “off beat” things because they’ve been setting aside oil revenues in a special fund.
“We’re in a position to do this,” he said.
The long-term goal is to boost the municipal population and see tangible benefits from cash that’s flowing in now. They want something to show after the oil boom ends, Tycoles said.
It’s not all roses having oil extracted from the region, he noted.
Local roadways are in rough shape and quiet backroads are getting pounded by traffic. Out around places like Sinclair and Cromer, people used to stop when traffic went by. But not anymore.
“Now there are 200, 300, 400 heavy trucks going down those roads every day,” he said.