History

The Beginning of Municipal Government in Saskatchewan

In 1883, the federal government gave the legislative council of the North West Territories the authority to make laws respecting local government. By 1886, the towns of Regina and Moose Jaw, along with the rural municipalities of Indian Head and South Qu'Appelle, had been established.  Those areas that did not form municipalities were organized as Local Improvement Districts (LID's) and, Statute Labour and Fire (SLF) Districts. The purpose of these districts was to establish roads and protect against prairie fires.

When Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, the existing rural municipalities along with the LID's and SLF's, formed the Saskatchewan Local Improvement Districts Association. The intent, as it is today, was to ensure that the concerns of the people would be heard by senior levels of government.

In 1911, due to the increasing number of rural municipalities, the organization changed it's name to The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM).

Also in 1905, the provincial government established the Spencer Commission to develop a standard framework for local government organization. This was in response to the increasing demands being placed upon local councils by the seemingly endless influx of settlers.

By 1907, the Commission had held meetings throughout the province at which it solicited the opinion of the people as to:

  • what responsibilities and authority local councils should have;
  • how large rural municipalities should be;
  • how many councillors were required in each rural municipality; and
  • how often elections should be held, among other things.

The report formed the basis for the first Rural Municipality Act. Since then, SARM and the provincial government have worked together on scores of issues relating to the quality of life in rural Saskatchewan.

There have been three books written about the history of SARM:

  1. The SARM Story: Sixty Years of Progress, by George F. Dawson, with Ross Evans', 15 Years More. 1980
  2. The Building of a Province: The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, by Jenni Mortin. 1995
  3. The First 100 years of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, A Century of Success, Edited by SARM Director Deb Gronning. 2005

Association Leadership, Conventions, and Meeting Structures

Prior to 1914, the Board of Directors of the Association was comprised of a President, a Secretary - Treasurer, up to three Vice-Presidents and ten to twelve Directors. These individuals were elected at large during the annual meeting of the Association.  The Constitution of the Association was amended in 1914, and member municipalities were divided into six Divisions. A director was elected from each division and the number of Vice-Presidents was reduced to one.

In 1932, the Association was incorporated by an Act of the Provincial Legislature. The Act of Incorporation replaced the Constitution, established the objectives of the Association, and allowed for the making of bylaws to govern its operation.

The Act was revised in 1987 and 1995 to empower the Association to engage in a wider range of services for it's members and clients. The Board of Directors meet on a regular basis throughout the year.

From 1905 until 1931, Association general meetings were held at various locations across the province. Currently, the Association holds one general meeting in March of each year in either Regina or Saskatoon. At these Annual Conventions each rural municipality is allowed two official delegates to vote on resolutions.  All delegates (and rural municipal administrators with the permission of their council) may debate the resolutions. Resolutions passed by the convention body become SARM policy and are dealt with by the Board of Directors.

The number of resolutions submitted to each convention increased over the years to the point where it was impossible to deal with them all and still have time to discuss other essential Association business.  As a result, in 1985, the Association began holding annual Midterm Conventions in November.  These conventions also alternate between Regina and Saskatoon.

To further ensure that the membership has ample opportunity to communicate with the Board of Directors, annual division meetings have been held in June of each year since 1935.

SARM Services

The Association has a long, proud history behind it, and is looking forward to the future with optimism.

Over the years, SARM has grown from a staff of one to a staff of 25, as we follow the direction of our members and provide services accordingly.  Some services include advocacy, representation of rural interests on boards and committees, legislation review, general municipal support, communication services, legal services, employee benefits programs, municipal insurance programs, policy research, Trading Services, retaining a federal lobbyist, municipal fund management, etc.

Membership of SARM is voluntary, and we are proud that 100 per cent of rural municipalities in Saskatchewan are part of our Association.

The Future of SARM

SARM is committed to building a vibrant, strong association that is a leader and a contributor to the future of the province and rural ratepayers.

Our vision, mission and organizational values of the Association articulate where SARM is headed for the future.

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Apr. 25, 2017