MONDAY, MARCH 12TH
On Monday, March 12th, SARM held its registration reception, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Municipal Hail Insurance Association; bus service to the event was sponsored by the Regina Hotel Association and in part by the City of Regina. Over 630 delegates and guests were registered by the end of the evening, all of which had an opportunity to browse through the tradeshow and to make use of this year's Internet Café provided by Lexcom.
Monday, March 12th also saw the opening of the Annual Convention Tradeshow. With more than 167 exhibits, convention participants had access to vast amounts of information on numerous products and services including STARS Air Ambulance, Saskdocs, and modular housing options. Along with the delegates, guests and speakers, the 398 tradeshow contributors helped to make the 107th Annual Convention a success.
TUESDAY, MARCH 13TH
The convention officially opened on Tuesday morning. There were 1,504 delegates and guests present by the end of the week, representing 284 rural municipalities from across the province. Including the tradeshow contributors, the participation rate for the 107th convention was 1902.
Lieutenant Governor Opens the Convention:
A long standing and much appreciated tradition for the SARM Annual Convention, His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Dr. Gordon Barnhart, opened the convention in his address to the delegates.
Lieutenant Governor's Award for Outstanding Service to Rural Saskatchewan:
Roy Powell was awarded the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Outstanding Service to Rural Saskatchewan for his many contributions to rural Saskatchewan. The presentation of the award to Mr. Powell was preceded by a speech from the Honorable Dr. Gordon Barnhart, outgoing Lieutenant Governor of Canada, and presented by Murray Black, Manager of Customer Development and Support, SaskPower - sponsor of the award.
Presentation from the City of Regina:
Delegates heard this year from Deputy Mayor Mike O'Donnell, City of Regina, on numerous topics of interest to both urban and rural municipalities. Mr. O'Donnell provided a brief overview of some of the innovative projects being undertaken by the city that he believes have the potential to be applied in rural communities.
President David Marit gave his speech to the delegates on Tuesday morning. He spoke about a number of RM issues that SARM has been working diligently to address including revenue sharing, flood assistance and the importance of municipal cooperation in this time of economic opportunity. He also provided a quick update on current programs delivered by SARM, including the Rural Municipal Administrator Internship Program (MAIP), and Provincial Rat Eradication Program (PREP).
RMAA Curling Presentation:
Edith Goddard, Administrator for the RM of Kellross No. 247, with assistance from Wendy Gowda, Administrator for the RM of Buckland No. 491, presented the RMAA Curling Award to the RM of Oakdale No. 320 from Division 6- Skip, John Fiest, Third, Larry Neil, Second, Wayne Scheible, and Lead, Richard Ballachay. The runner up for 2012 was the RM of Rosedale No. 283 from Division 5.
Report of Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture & Presentation of Scholarship:
Dr. John Gordon, Director, Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture provided a report to delegates on the organization and presented the 19th annual $1000.00 Student Scholarship in Agricultural Safety and Rural Health to Ty Kehrig from the RM of Bjorkdale No. 426. Ty received the scholarship for having written the best on the farm safety essay this year.
Board of Examiners' Award:
President Marit presented Jim Angus with the Board of Examiners' Award in recognition for his years of service as Secretary for the Board.
This year, 50 resolutions, including 7 POPs, were heard by the Convention delegates. Of those 50, 40 were carried; 1 was carried unanimously. Some of the issues raised dealt with road maintenance agreement rates, lack of funding for the SASHN, increased funding for the Beaver Control Program, and funding for bridge innovation.
Ron Styles, President and CEO, Sasktel, provided an update on programs offered and initiatives currently being undertaken by Sasktel.
Address by Honourable Darryl Hickie, Minister of Municipal Affairs:
Honourable Darryl Hickie, Minister of Municipal Affairs, attended the 2012 Annual Convention and addressed the delegates at the end of the day on Tuesday. Minister Hickie spoke to the delegates about the challenges that come with the growth that the province has seen over the last few years. Although he confirmed that there would be no new infrastructure dollars at the Federal level until 2015, he reminded RMs about the 9.5% increase in revenue sharing for municipalities this year and guaranteed a 15% increase in the amount for next year. Minister Hickie also stressed the need for municipalities to look beyond the boundaries and borders of RM maps and to join forces to grow the economy.
"We see growth has its challenges but we're breaking down the silos" - Minister Hickie.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14TH
Address from the Minister of Agriculture:
The Honourable Bob Bjornerud, Minister of Agriculture, addressed the delegates on Wednesday morning and announced his upcoming retirement from the position of Minister of Agriculture. The convention delegates showed their gratitude for the work done by Minister Bjornerud for rural Saskatchewan with a standing ovation.
Presentation of SARMS Award of Valour:
SARM's Award of Valour was presented to Doug Gaillard of Assiniboia on Wednesday morning. The purpose of the award is to provide rural municipalities with an opportunity to directly honour those citizens in their communities who have contributed to the safety and well-being of their neighbours. In 2011, Mr. Gaillard put all personal safety aside to aid a man in need; Rene Boutin is alive today because of his heroic actions.
Premier of Saskatchewan, the Honourable Brad Wall, addressed the delegates on Wednesday. At this time, the Premier took the opportunity to bid farewell to Minister Bjornerud, who will be retiring from his position as the Minister of Agriculture this spring. The Premier spoke about the provincial plan to move the province forward. He stated that to maintain the Saskatchewan Advantage the Province will be focusing on a balanced budget, competitive taxes, innovation, infrastructure investment s, and debt reduction. The delegates showed their appreciation to the Premier for his speech with a standing ovation.
"The people, the real Saskatchewan advantage, this room is the real Saskatchewan advantage" - Premier Brad Wall.
Bear Pit Session with Provincial Cabinet Members:
Premier Brad Wall and all but one member of the cabinet were in attendance at the annual bear pit session. They fielded questions on topics from delegates on a wide range of issues from PDAP to cougar control. While some of questions were thoroughly addressed during the session, many of the Ministers requested side-bar meetings with applicable delegates to follow-up on the issues being broached.
Municipal Leadership Development Program (MLDP):
Delegates attending convention were given an opportunity to participate in their choice of MLDP modules held on Monday, March 12th. Scheduling modules prior to the annual convention was very well received once again this year as reflected by the attendance numbers.
On Wednesday afternoon, a presentation was made by President David Marit to twenty-six (26) reeves, councillors and administrators in recognition of their completion of the MLDP presently structured around six (6) key workshops including Municipal Economic Development Fundamentals and Community & Land Use Planning.
Saskatchewan Municipal Hail Insurance Association Report:
President Wayne Black introduced the SMHI Board of Directors to the delegates and highlighted the many activities undertaken by the association over the past year.
This year's workshop line-up covered a wide variety of topics and the schedule allowed delegates to take-in two of the five that were offered.
Conflict Management - The presentation provided by Glen Gardiner, Director of the Dispute Resolution Office, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, provided an opportunity to improve one's skills in dealing with conflict. The workshop provided delegates an introduction to basic conflict resolution skills and tips for dealing with people in conflict.
Asset Management - Nicole Allen, VEMAX Management, Glen Dow, Reeve, RM of Wilton no. 472, and Jill Omiecinski, Assistant Administrator, RM of Buckland no. 491, delivered a session on Asset Management that addressed the history and framework for asset management pilot projects in Saskatchewan. A specific focus of the session was on the lessons learned from applying Australian asset management principles in Saskatchewan municipalities.
Good Practices for Rural Municipalities: Oil & Gas Development -Shelley Kilbride, Policy Manager, SARM, delivered a presentation on consultations held by the Resource and Economic Development Committee (R&EDC) with RMs dealing with oil and gas development and a number of related industry stakeholders. Information collected during the consultations was used to develop a good practices guidebook for municipalities; the primary purpose of the workshop was to review some of the main content of the guidebook and to allow for open discussion on the recommended practices.
Informa Economics - Rick Anderson, Executive Vice President, Informa Economics, delivered two sessions to delegates. The first session provided an economic/market outlook of global crop prospects in a highly uncertain environment. The second session of the workshop focused on the economic/market outlook of the North American Livestock situation.
Managing Clubroot in Saskatchewan - SARM's own Laurel Feltin, Director of Policy, and Faye Dokken-Bouchard, Provincial Disease Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture, delivered a workshop to the delegates in which they defined clubroot and its implications, outlined some best practices for dealing with the disease of canola, and discussed some tools that RMs can use to prevent and/or manage clubroot within their municipality.
SARM Banquet and Entertainment:
Over 560 people attended the SARM banquet which took place Wednesday evening. The Banquet, featuring Roman Danylo, was quite a success. CIBC Wood Gundy & Sasktel sponsored the 2012 banquet and entertainment.
THURSDAY, MARCH 15TH
SARM Executive Director, Dale Harvey, provided an overview of the report on the association's financial activities in 2011.
Election for President, Vice-President and Directors from Divisions 1, 3, and 5:
Congratulations to our returning President, David Marit, Vice-President, Ray Orb and Directors, Don Taylor (Division 1), Doug Steele (Division 3), and Ron Stevens (Division 5).
Streets and Roads Presentation - Legal Services:
Andrew Svenson, Legal Counsel for SARM, provided a presentation to the delegates on the responsibility and authority of RMs with respect to streets and roads. The primary focus of his presentation was on Road Maintenance Agreements (RMA). Mr. Svenson discussed the purpose and requirements of entering into and RMA; he provided valuable information about the mechanism to recoup the additional cost of road maintenance resulting from a haulers use of the road. For those interested, a copy of the PowerPoint presentation will be made available on our website under members' legal services, 2012 Annual Convention.
Address - Transport, Infrastructure & Communities:
Mr. Merv Tweed, MP, Chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, addressed the delegates on Thursday morning. In addition to a re-announcement of the 1.5+ million dollars for the continuation of the BCP, PREP and Wild Boar programs, he reiterated the permanency of the Gas Tax Funding for municipalities. The purpose of the program permanency is to ensure long-term stable funding for infrastructure to support economic growth in Canada. Mr. Tweed also confirmed the hard work being undertaken by the Federal Government to eliminate trade barriers, a lot of which are inter-jurisdictional.
“Our goal is to develop an effective and sustainable long-term infrastructure programs for Canadians from coast to coast” - Merv Tweed
Lionel LaBelle provided a brief overview of the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP); STEP is a stand-alone organization run by exporters of this Province. According to Mr. LaBelle, there are approximately 450 members of STEP today, a record high for the organization. He also offered a snapshot of how Saskatchewan`s economy is doing on a global perspective.
Laurel Feltin, Director of Policy, SARM, delivered an update to delegates on a number of points of interest and concern to SARM and its members. Among the updates given, a vast amount of information was provided on the Saskatchewan Environmental Code, changes to the Canadian Grain Act and Workers Compensation Board Act, as well as SARMs comments on the proposed addition of the Barn Swallow to the federal Species at Risk Act.
Rural Municipal Administrator's Association President, Tim Leurer, gave his first address to SARM delegates. Mr. Leurer made note that there are a high number of RM Administrators with the intent to retire within the next 6 years and that a large number of those retirements are expected to occur within the next 3 years. In addition to speaking about current programs to help meet the impending demand, such as the Rural Municipal Administrator Internship Program (MAIP), he was pleased to announce that 92% of rural Administrators consider themselves on or above the recommended salary schedule recently introduced by the RMAA.
Canadian New West Partnership:
Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Honorable Dylan Jones, gave an update Thursday afternoon on the Canadian New West Partnership. Minister Jones provided a brief overview of the partnership make-up and spoke a great deal about the benefits to a unified West.
"No region in the work with a more promising future than this region, the New Partnership" - Minister Jones.
Shelley Kilbride, Policy Manager, reported to the delegates on the work being done by SARMs Resource and Economic Development Committee (R&EDC). Mrs. Kilbride provided an overview of committee objectives that have been met to-date and outlined the next steps proposed to be undertaken in 2012.