A study of the growth of selected service centers in Saskatchewan
Olsen, H. D.
This study analyzed a selected group of Saskatchewan service centers in order to isolate factors which contributed to their growth or decline. The objectives of the study were formulated around the basic hypothesis that the growth of a center is influenced by identifiable factors which may be common to centers or unique to particular centers. The analysis was intended to provide insights into the process of growth by quantifying and testing relationships between the population of rural service centers and various conceptually, significant variables. The centers studied included all of the incorporated Saskatchewan centers with 1951 census populations between 500 and 2,500. This consisted of 74 centers. From 1951 to 1971 the populations of 14 of these centers had declined, while 60 had increased. The study included a review of selected, research literature devoted to the study of rural service centers, detailed case studies of two pairs of service centers, and simple and multiple regression analyses of selected secondary data. The service centers chosen for the case studies were Leader-Prelate and Balcarres-Lemberg. These centers were chosen because of their similarity with respect to location and size in 1951. A field survey was employed and personal interviews were obtained from civic officials and businessmen as a means of gaining insights into the process of growth of the centers studied as cases. The main conclusions of the study were that the centers studied competed with each other as well as with other centers for the business of a declining rural population, and that larger centers had a competitive advantage in the provision of commercial, public and community services such as hospitals, schools and other local amenities. With these advantages the larger centers were able to attract more business and new residents from surrounding areas. The analysis further indicated that centers which were situated at the junction of two highways, were located at a greater distance from their competitors, or whose population was largely in the labor force age categories, tended to remain relatively larger and more stable over the period. Factors such as community leadership, community loyalty, and active, community-minded people were indicated as having a positive impact on the growth of the centers studied. Also very important were the administrative decisions of policy makers with respect to such things as the location of schools, hospitals and highways. The limitations of the study suggested the need for a broader data base which would permit a more comprehensive study in terms of variables considered and the number of centers included. Also, there would be merit in testing the usefulness of additional analytical techniques such as simulation, logit analysis and discriminant analysis. The findings of this study should be useful to policy makers who are concerned about the well-being and further development of service centers. This is especially important in light of the significance of decisions of senior and local governments regarding the provision of services, facilities and amenities in a center. Hopefully the study has made a significant contribution to the body of knowledge regarding service center growth and viability.