“Overall it was a great conference,” said Mayor Barry Rudd, who attended the conference as the SUMA southwest director with two Town of Maple Creek staff members and four councillors.
The 109th annual convention and tradeshow was held at the Queensbury Convention Centre in Regina Feb. 2-5.
At the event, Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff announced $500,000 in grant funding will be spent on a multi-material recycling program, which will be administered by SUMA. The grant will cover up to 40 per cent of the program costs with municipalities funding the remainder.
The SUMA conference consisted of a series of education sessions, some on growth and the introduction of immigrants. Other sessions were on collaborative methods of providing recreation, on privacy information, and legislation and requirements for local councils, and the design and construction of roadways and lawsuits that arise from poor management.
There were also caucus meetings for city mayors, discussions on the importance of communications within local governments and one-on-one bear pit sessions with cabinet. Participants heard from keynote speaker Ethiopian-born runner, coach and motivational speaker Ted Jaleta. He shared his personal story and a message about the difference each person can choose to make in their lives and the lives of others.
Rudd noted Jaleta discussed his escape from Ethiopia and personal story of achievement.
“He shared his message about the difference a person can make in their lives and the lives of others, if we put our mind to it,” said Rudd. “No matter what hits you, it’s your decision of what the outcome is going to be at the end.”
Although Maple Creek did not put forward any resolutions, there were about 15 brought to the committee. For example, the issue of fine revenue sharing in terms of policing.
As a director Rudd chaired two sessions, one on corrections and policing and the other on privacy legislation. Emphasis was also put on how municipalities prepare for growth.
“There was a good presentation on privacy legislation. It was done by a lawyer out of Saskatoon on what you can do and what you can’t do,” said Rudd.
The meeting reviewed topics like what information can be shared by councils in and out of camera, the release of employee personal information, tax data or the release of general information at the office.
Premier Brad Wall’s address spoke to infrastructure concerns like water, sewer, and roads and how to pay for them. He said it would be a last resort to raise taxes, like the Education Property Tax. He also made special note about keeping promises to citizens.
“We all make resolutions in one way or the other. We do it in government at the budgeting table,” said Wall.
He highlighted the province’s six-part growth plan focusing on infrastructure, human resources to combat the province’s labour shortage, and competitiveness.
“We have an infrastructure deficit in this province,” he said. He noted that $8 million is being spent on infrastructure this year.
“We’re going to have to pursue infrastructure building with conventional means,” he said. “We are going to need a meaningful partnership from the federal government as well.” The other three components of the growth plan speak to innovation, international engagement and fiscal responsibility.
He spoke of providing international scholarships, increasing trade missions and keeping Saskatchewan values at heart.
“We’re going to continue to tell Saskatchewan’s story around the world,” Wall said. “We’re going to weigh in on things like COOL, country-of-origin labelling with our partners to the south. We will wade in on Keystone.”
He noted that while the Keystone Pipeline may not seem like something of concern to people in Saskatchewan, it is very important to the economy.
“The discount at which your oil is sold, because we don’t get enough Canadian oil to tide water, cost this treasury about $300 million in any given year and our industry $2 billion,” said Wall. “Never mind the pipeline goes through Saskatchewan creating jobs. We have a lot at steak with Keystone.”
Also at SUMA, the annual tradeshow featured about 150 booths of municipal goods and services on Feb. 3-4.
“They had a great response at the tradeshow this year for suppliers,” Rudd said. He noted there were approximately 45 additional vendors on the wait list for the tradeshow, which showcased products like pool supplies, industrial signs, waterworks materials and safety equipment.
Delegates took in a number of other social activities like tours of Casino Regina, the Leader-Post and a jewellery-making session. The three-day convention also showcased the annual president’s banquet and awards ceremony, followed by a comedy performance by Darrin Rose.