Infrastructure and police service top discussion list at virtual sector meeting

Nipawin Mayor Rennie Harper/Daily Herald File Photo

More than 180 representatives from Saskatchewan towns, villages, resort villages, and northern municipalities gathered online May 19 for a virtual sector meeting hosted by Municipalities of Saskatchewan.

“Whether virtual or in-person, the annual Town, Village, and Northern Sector Meeting is a chance for hometown leaders to come together with others from similar-sized communities to discuss municipal issues, learn from one another, and explore solutions to our concerns,” Mayor Rennie Harper of Nipawin, Municipalities of Saskatchewan Vice-President of Towns said in a release.

Items of discussion included recreation, infrastructure funding for water and wastewater, and policing. Nearly all Saskatchewan towns and villages contract RCMP services through the Provincial Police Services Agreement. RCMP collective bargaining may result in retroactive salary increases back to 2016, which would result in significant cost increases to the agreement for provincial government, which will then be passed on to municipalities.

“As many municipalities contract RCMP for policing services, municipal leaders are concerned with an anticipated rise in costs as well as the level of service in their communities,” said Mayor Mike Strachan of Torquay, Vice-President of Villages, Resort Villages, and Northern Municipalities said.

In their release the organization noted that as municipalities are responsible for nearly 60 per cent of Canada’s public infrastructure, the meeting included an education session on asset management, presented by Asset Management Saskatchewan and NAMS Canada.

“Residents depend on municipal infrastructure every day, from the water they drink to the roads they take to work,” Harper explained.

“With limited sources of funding, asset management is essential to making the most of our municipal infrastructure.”

The meeting also featured a keynote address by award-winning entrepreneur and best-selling author Darci Lang who engaged municipal representatives on staying positive in a difficult time, as well as an update from Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Government Relations on changes to boards of revision.