MAPLE CREEK’S MAYOR AND COUNCIL ATTEND SUMA CONVENTION, ABLE TO LEARN ABOUT ISSUES FROM MARIJUANA SALES TO DISASTER MANAGEMENT
It was a fairly routine Feb. 13 meeting for Maple Creek town council.
There were a number of items on the council’s agenda, ranging from the approval of temporary liquor permits, to approving financial statements.
All councillors were in attendance.
Council also took time to discuss the potential purchase of new washing equipment for the town’s fleet of vehicles. Tuesday’s meeting was also the first meeting for council since the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) 2018 convention, held in Regina from Feb. 4-7.
Many councillors, including Mayor Barry Rudd, were in attendance and given the opportunity to take in information sessions on a variety of subjects relevant to running and governing a municipality.
Many councillors who attended this year’s convention felt it was one of the better ones in recent memory, with lots of valuable information to be had. Coun. Barry Elderkin said he found the conference and the information sessions offered to be quite helpful.
“It was one of the better ones I’ve been at,” he said.
During the conference Elderkin got the chance to learn more about a number of topics ranging from emergency preparedness, to what could be coming down the road for the town when recreational cannabis becomes legal in July.
The councillor explained that the session on cannabis touched on what responsibilities municipalities like Maple Creek will have in terms of regulating. Specifically, if council decides to allow the sale of recreational cannabis, it will have to look at issues surrounding some of the town’s bylaws.
Even after attending the information session, Elderkin said there are still important questions that need to be answered by other levels of government to help town council in crafting a policy.
“How much revenue are we going to get, is it worth our while,” he said.
Along with questions about the sharing of revenues, Elderkin added that municipalities need guidance from the provincial government when it comes to writing and enforcing certain bylaws, such as where cannabis can legally be sold.
“We just need some more direction,” he said.
The need for more direction is a concern shared by fellow councillor Michelle Mckenzie, who found some time to sit in on the cannabis session.
Mckenzie said it was discussed that municipalities will be responsible for drawing up and enforcing bylaws, but that there are still some questions with no definitive answers.
“The provincial government is still waiting for the federal government,” she said.
Besides the session on legalized cannabis, Elderkin also was able to attend meetings discussing how to be prepared before disaster strikes. Elderkin said it is important to distinguish between an emergency and a disaster.
“An emergency can generally be dealt with by calling 911,” he said.
He explained a large part of disaster preparedness means having the proper plans in place and being able to work with surrounding municipalities and other organizations to deal with the situation, as it is likely to be beyond the ability of the town to deal with on its own. As a result Elderkin said there are plans to look at the town’s emergency plan and potentially update it.
For Mckenzie, another important issue she was able to learn about at the convention surrounded the liability towns face when hosting public events. Specifically, she explained that towns could potentially be liable if streets are blocked off for an event, which limits the access of emergency vehicles. She added that there are also questions about when people bring in things like bouncy castles and who would be liable should there be an accident.
“It’s making it harder for small towns to have an event,” she said.
The councillor said what she learned at the conference will help the town better understand what kind of insurance needs to be in place to make sure the town is protected in terms of liability.