Almost 500 people attended the six SARM Division Meetings. Presentations were made on agricultural issues, the new Planning and Development Act, the Municipal Capacity Development Program and municipal bridges. Government Relations Minister Harry Van Mulligen addressed attendees at Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Swift Current. Also speaking at the Swift Current meeting was David Anderson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food and MP for Cypress Hills Grasslands. Accompanying Mr. Anderson was Leon Benoit, MP for Vegreville-Wainwright in Alberta. Mr. Benoit has been working for a number of years on the reinstatement of 2% liquid strychnine for the control of gophers.
We are continuing to lobby the provincial government regarding the need for changes to the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP). Our efforts have been concentrated on two issues. The first being the level of equipment rates allowed when using municipal equipment. A meeting has been scheduled with PDAP officials for July 16th. RMAA officials will also be attending this meeting. The second issue is the level of deductables for municipal claims. We have learned that in Alberta there is no deductable. In Manitoba the deductables are based on population and are much more favourable to municipalities than the formula currently used in Saskatchewan. We have discussed this with government officials and requested that the current formula be changed.
The issue of school closures continues to be one that we are concerned about and working on. We wrote a joint letter with SUMA to Premier Calvert asking for at least a one year moratorium. The SOS (Save Our Schools) committee has also been asking for the same. We recently received a letter in which he refered the issue to Learning Minster Higgins. We also sent a joint letter with SUMA to all the newspapers in the province in response to the letter written by the President of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association. It appears that decisions on school closures are being based on the premise that large schools mean higher quality education for students. This has been proven many times not to be the case. The province is in an economic boom and the infrastructure is already in place. We should not abandon the infrastructure that is so vital to continuing this growth.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture tabled their recommendations for the next generation of agriculture policy framework (APF II) last week. Many of the recommendations are in line with the policies SARM has been lobbying for on topics such as transportation, environment and business risk management. However, the recommendations are somewhat generic, and the challenge to the government now is to decide how to implement these policies and work out the details.
The ministers of agriculture from across the country met in Whistler during the last week of June to discuss details and programs for APF II. They announced their vision, Growing Forward, which includes four business risk management programs – AgriInvest (producer savings account, AgriStability (margin-based program), AgriInsurance (production insurance), and AgriRecovery (disaster program). We will continue to watch for the specific details of these programs as they shape future APF programming. More information is available at www.agr.gc.ca.
The CTP transportation committee continues to confirm corridors. If you have not sent in your feedback confirming the corridor in your RM, please contact the SARM office as soon as possible. A number of contribution agreements were distributed at the SARM Division meetings to RMs that had confirmed phase I corridors. We are currently in the process of distributing agreements to RMs that have phase I roads on the corridor. If you picked up an agreement at June Division meetings and receive another in the mail by mistake, you only need to send one back to the SARM office. The deadline to have the agreements in for the full funding is August 31, 2007.
Before a corridor can be implemented each jurisdiction along the affected corridor (primary weight point ‘A’ to primary weight point ‘B’) must have signed an agreement and approved the corridor. This includes RMs, urban municipalities, native communities and provincial highways. In particular, if your corridor runs through a town or village, you should contact their office to discuss the corridor and ensure they will allow primary weights in phase I.
Please contact Richard Porter at 747-7694, or Tyler Lynch at 761-3734, firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions.
Gophers continue to cause major damage to crops and pastures in some areas of the province. While an economical and environmentally friendly long term solution is required, producers need help now. The Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has recently taken an interest in this issue. This spring they commissioned a study that looked at the effectiveness of strychnine, aluminum phosphide and chlorophacinone. We are awaiting the final report. Leon Benoit, MP for VegrevilleWainwright in Alberta recently addressed attendees at the SARM Division Meeting in Swift Current. Mr. Benoit has been working for a number of years on the reinstatement of 2% liquid strychnine for the control of gophers.
Another successful Rural Municipal Administrators Association’s annual convention was held on May 14-17. Don McCallum was elected as the new President, replacing Kevin Ritchie, who decided not to run again; Tim Leuer was elected as the new Vice President, John Eberle as the new Director for Division 2 and Terry Hvidston as the new Director for Division 4. The complete executive for 2007-08 is a follows:
President – Don McCallum, Cut Knife
Vice President – Tim Leuer, Kelvington
Past President – Kevin Ritchie, Wilcox
Executive Director – Jim Reiter, Rosetown
Director, Division 1 – Kim McIvor, Weyburn
Director, Division 2 – John Eberl, Holdfast
Director, Division 3 – Ida-Mae Leek, Gull Lake
Director, Division 4 – Terry Hvidston, Tisdale
Director, Division 5 – Wendy Gowda, Prince Albert
Director, Division 6 – Glenda Giles, Kindersley
We thank Kevin Ritchie for his contributions during his four years on the SARM Board and look forward to working with new President Don McCallum.
SARM welcomes Raquel Moleski who has been hired as our Communiciations Coordinator, replacing Kristin Wagman. She officially starts work on Tuesday, July 3 but was able to attend the Division Meetings in Kipling and Moose Jaw.
Happy Canada Day! The SARM office will be closed on Monday, July 2 for the stat holiday. For the month of July, the following staff members will be on holidays:
Tammy Carstensen – July 3-6 Tyler Lynch – July 3-9
Teresa Edwards – July 3-13 Mike Morris – July 3-13
Ken Engel – July 3-6 and 30-31 Luanne Synk – July 9-13