TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8TH:
Municipal Leadership Development Program (MLDP)
Over 135 Councillors, Reeves, Administrators and other municipal staff attended the 2011 Municipal Leaders’ Roles & Responsibilities workshop – a module of the Municipal Leadership Development Program (MLDP) on November 8th, the day prior to Convention.
The agenda included a presentation by Executive Director, Dale Harvey on SARM’s structure and services, an RMAA Presentation by John Eberl, RMAA Vice President and the always popular RM of Crank Case mock council meeting. New to this year’s workshop was a presentation on Decision-Making in the Public Sector: How to Stay Out of Court given by Mike Morris, Manager of Legal Services at SARM.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9TH:
The convention officially opened on Wednesday morning. There were 831 delegates and guests present, representing 234 rural municipalities from across the province. Along with delegates, guests and speakers, the participation rate for the 2011 Midterm Convention is slightly higher than it has been over the last two years.
SARM President, David Marit, opened the convention in an address to the delegates. President Marit spoke about the realities facing the province today; that with population growth we are seeing economic growth in rural municipalities. President Marit highlighted SARM’s own expansion over the last five years, specifically in regard to staff and services offered, to assist municipalities in taking advantage of the growth opportunities. The Association’s federal and provincial budget asks were also covered, along with a number of other important rural issues. President Marit closed his address by opening it up to the floor for comments and discussion.
Report on SARM’s Resource and Economic Development Committee
Shelley Kilbride, Policy Manager, provided a presentation on SARM’s newly established Resource and Economic Development Committee (R&EDC). The content of her presentation included a brief overview of the growth of the resource sector in Saskatchewan, an overview of the R&EDC mandate and goals, and some details of the Committee’s work to-date. Shelley stated that, “[a]lthough the primary focus of the R&EDC over the next year will be the oil and gas sector, the Committee will address other important areas as time and finances permit.”
Oil and Gas Development in Saskatchewan: Current and Projected Trends
Delegates heard this year from Fred Ochieng, Manager of Resource Assessment with the Ministry of Energy and Resources, on the current and projected situation of oil and gas development in Saskatchewan. Fred provided an excellent overview of the petroleum tenure process and exploration trends.
Potash Development: Planning for Future Growth
SARM’s own Andrew Svenson, Legal Counsel, and Dana Schmalz, Community Planner, delivered a presentation on current potash development in the province. They spoke briefly about the mineral resources and the Saskatchewan industry as a whole and then highlighted existing potash mines and projects that are being developed. Dana discussed some key planning areas involved in potash development, including the role of zoning bylaws and Official Community Plans, while Andrew provided delegates an overview of important agreements that they might encounter as a result of mining activities.
Municipal Government Sustainability – Self-Assessment Tool
Ryan Cossitt, Policy and Research Manager, Municipal Affairs, delivered a presentation to the delegates on municipal government sustainability and a new self-assessment tool. The self-assessment tool, which was developed by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, is meant for use by municipalities to gauge local government sustainability; the results of the survey are for internal use and do not have to be shared. To access the Municipal Government Sustainability Self-Assessment Tool please visit https://www.municipal.gov.sk.ca/Administration/Assessment/MGSST.
Presentation on SARM Group Life
Kathie Caleval, Manager of SARM Insurance and Benefits Programs, announced the addition of Group Life Insurance to the line of benefit programs that SARM makes available to rural municipalities for employees. Kathie delivered an informative presentation on the details of the program, including coverage, premium rates, and enrolment procedures. The program is set to begin on January 1, 2012.
An Evening with Wayne Lee, Comedic Hypnotist, for Charity
The SARM Staff organized a charity event in support of our own Doug Fisher, SARM Controller, who was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Wayne Lee, noted comedic hypnotist, performed for SARM delegates at the Regina Inn on Wednesday.
There were over 250 tickets sold for the event and nearly $3500.00 made in additional in-kind and monetary donations. A special thanks to Flaman, Western Litho, GES, and Evolution AV for their generous support of this event. Thanks to everyone that contributed to the evening we will be making a donation of $5,058.95 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
Thank you again to all of those who provided donations and to the stars of the show, including Vice President Orb and Director Steele. Without all of you the event wouldn’t have been a success!
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10TH:
In total, 22 resolutions were dealt with at the Convention over the course of the resolution sessions. A total of 18 resolutions were passed on a wide variety of topics, including MREP, Crop Insurance, and road maintenance agreements. The resolutions that were passed are posted on the SARM website.
Congratulations to Morgan Powell and John Wagner, both of whom were re-appointed as rural representatives on the SAMA Board.
Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Berry Vrbanovic, President – FCM, spoke to delegates about the rural interests represented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). Delegates were invited to participate in an FCM Strategic Planning Consultation on Thursday at noon. At this session, delegates were able provided insights on issues of importance to RMs and made suggestions on how FCM could better support the municipalities that they represent.
Minister Gerry Ritz Address
The Honourable Gerry Ritz, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, addressed the delegates on Thursday morning. Minister Ritz’s speech covered a number of points of interest for SARM members. He spoke about the Growing Forward Framework, the importance of the agricultural sector to Canada, and how the Federal Government will ensure farmers have market freedom. He also announced SARM’s participation on a Crop Logistics Working Group and $50 million dollar Federal investment in the Agricultural Innovation Program. These were welcome announcements as recognized by the applause provided by the delegates after the Minister’s address.
STARS – Helicopter EMS in Saskatchewan
Dr. Greg Powell, Chief Executive Officer, STARS, delivered an update on the helicopter air ambulance service in Saskatchewan; Saskatchewan has recently signed an agreement with STARS to provide air medical transportation for those across the province. Dr. Powell provided a history of the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Services (STARS), which first originated in Alberta over 25 years ago, and shared a number of STARS success stories. For more information about STARS please visit www.stars.ca.
Report on SARM’s Convention/Division Meeting Review
In response to a resolution put forth at the 2011 Annual Convention, President Marit and Executive Director, Dale Harvey, provided a presentation to the delegates on the review undertaken by SARM’s Board of Directors to assess the timing and duration of SARM’s Conventions and Division Meetings. The presentation included an overview of the related Member’s Survey comments, historical attendance statistics, and purpose for each meeting. The options reviewed by the Board were outlined and the final recommendation to the delegates was that the Annual Convention be moved to end on Friday, which would allow an opportunity for a federal speaker, and that Division Meeting attendance be monitored and revisited at a later date.
SARM Director of Policy, Laurel Feltin gave a presentation that highlighted key agriculture issues. She updated SARM members on dealing with clubroot, the registration and return of unused 2 percent liquid strychnine, next steps for the rail level of service review and she shared recommendations SARM made to government regarding Growing Forward 2 programming.
Learning from the 2011 Flood
The Director of Regional Services for the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, Doug Johnson, gave an overview of the things that have been learned from the 2011 flooding events in Saskatchewan. Director Johnson stressed the importance of preparation for flood events, including keeping a supply of essential flood protection items on hand. He also spoke about the 2011-2012 demands for grant funding through the Rural Water Control and Channel Clearing Programs and noted that another $500,000.00 had been shifted into such programs for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.