SARM expressed disappointment in tactics of Sask Growth Coalition

SARM president Ray Orb (Leader-Post file photo)

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) expressed disappointed with the Sask Growth Coalition campaign, over growing concerns from rural municipalities with tax arrears from oil and gas companies.

At the SARM 2021 Midterm Convention held last week, three resolutions were passed by more than 1,000 delegates and 256 RM’s asking the Government of Saskatchewan for legislation that permits stronger tax enforcement tools for municipalities on unpaid taxes from oil and gas companies.

SARM strongly disagrees with the Saskatchewan Growth Coalition on municipal taxation and supports its members’ resolutions regarding unpaid taxes.

“The growing number of tax arrears is concerning to SARM,” president Ray Orb said in a release.

“Just as concerning as the arrears are the SK Growth Coalition’s recommendations and tactics. At a time when the business community, including rural municipalities, should be showing a united front to resist the federal Liberal government’s assault on the oil and gas industry in Saskatchewan, this coalition has chosen to unilaterally propose changes that would cause a property tax shift to agricultural and other rural property owners in this province.”

According to their website, the Saskatchewan Growth Coalition (SGC) represents over 20 industries critical to Saskatchewan’s economic recovery, future growth, and continued prosperity. 

“SGC is a partnership of organizations representing rail, agriculture and agri-food, mining, oil and gas, pipelines, and the broader Saskatchewan business community. We are united behind the vision of a growing and stronger Saskatchewan,” the SGC said on their website.

“We believe Saskatchewan has the potential to be one of the most desirable places in Canada to invest and do business. Saskatchewan is blessed with the natural resources the world needs – they’re Saskatchewan’s natural advantage.”

SARM also noted there may be differences time to time between municipalities and industry on taxation, but there is a balance that is necessary to ensure fair rates and proper infrastructure within RM’s.

“There are enough challenges in our current environment, and not working together only makes things more difficult,” Orb said,

“We have a long history of supporting industry in Saskatchewan, and a lot of Saskatchewan’s major economic activity occurs in RM’s.”

SARM explained that they regularly meet with various industry groups to work on issues and hear concerns they may have with municipalities and hopes to continue positive relationships into the future.