History

Established in 1905, SARM was there when the ground was first broken in Saskatchewan; when the roads first connected us as a province. We remain a grass roots association committed to rural municipal government and being the voice of rural Saskatchewan.

Down Arrow
Wheat Stalk

The Beginning

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 then, as it is today, was to ensure that the concerns of the people would be heard by senior levels of government.

In 1911, the organization changed its name to The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities.

Photo: Electoral Map of Saskatchewan 1907

The Municipalities Act

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.

Photo: A SK telephone company crew in the Craik district 1895-1915

Conventions &
Meetings

From 1905 until 1931, association general meetings were held at various locations across the province. Today, SARM holds one general meeting in March of each year alternating between Regina and Saskatoon. Each rural municipality is allowed two official delegates to vote on resolutions at the annual convention. Delegates (and rural municipal administrators with the permission of their council) 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 a midterm convention 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.

Photo: SARM Annual Convention in Regina March 5-7, 1924

Services  

SARM has a long, proud history of advocating on behalf of RMs. 

Over the years SARM has grown from a staff of one to a staff of 26, as we follow the direction of our members and provide services accordingly. Our 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, and municipal fund management.

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

Photo: Russel Standard Reversible Road Grader 1919

The Future

SARM is committed to building rural municipal government. 

We know the landscape of rural Saskatchewan has changed
over the last century. With change comes new challenge
and new opportunity and we will be here to support rural
municipal government and advance rural Saskatchewan
for the next 100 years.

Photo: "The Goose Lake Special" buggy, Hanley, SK 1908