Municipal delegates to the mid-term convention for the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) had a good discussion on a wide variety of issues, said Reeve Carmen Sterling of the RM of Weyburn.
There were debates on 36 resolutions, presentations on issues of interest to the RM, and speeches from cabinet ministers, including Government Relations minister Jim Reiter and Ag minister Lyle Stewart.
One of the presentations that the Weyburn RM had an interest in was on bylaw enforcement, as there was a suggestion of SARM making available a number of bylaw enforcement officers who could be contracted to go enforce bylaws.
“I think they’re continuing to look at what their options are, and some of the limitations,” said the reeve, noting the RM was interested in a suggestion of possibly sharing the cost of an officer with other RMs.
She said there was one survey that showed 55 per cent of RMs are interested in starting or expanding their ability to enforce bylaws.
The Weyburn council wants to have a look at information available from SARM to discuss the issue further.
Part of the problem for the RM, she said, is the RM only needs an officer for certain bylaw infractions, and commented they wouldn’t need one at all if residents would follow the rules.
For example, she said, some people have started construction on buildings without a proper permit; in this case, it’s a very simple thing for the resident to get the proper permits.
Another example are motorists who haul heavy weights on municipal roads. While it causes problems for the RM, “there really isn’t a necessity for us to stop someone and get a weight on their vehicle. For the most part, most people respect the rules,” said Sterling.
SARM had a presentation on the grain-handling transportation system, which she said was very relevant for Weyburn having three inland grain terminals, along with a major change in the grain marketing system.
One fact they were told is now a car of grain will take, on average, 48 days from when it’s loaded at the elevator to when it’s on a ship pulling out of port, “which is an improvement.”
There was also a presentation on the STARS air ambulance service, which the RM council voted to support with the suggested $2 per capita donation (which SARM put forward as a suggested level of support).
From the debate on resolutions, Sterling noted they were surprised at the defeat of one resolution, asking that SARM organize a workshop to train equipment operators to handle such incidents as going out to a grass fire.
“We couldn’t understand why that was lost,” said the Reeve. “That doesn’t mean it couldn’t come up again later.”
The RM did support a resolution that asked for the PDAP program (Provincial Disaster Assistance Program) to pay a better rate of compensation, as right now if a municipality has to hire someone to go out and fix a road damaged by flooding, PDAP pays less than half of the cost.
Another resolution looked at the changes made to the EI program and what those changes meant to municipalities.
Reeve Sterling said it affects them in that they have a certain number of essential but seasonal employees to operate equipment, but not enough work to employ them year-round. SARM has approached the federal government about expanding the EI program to accommodate seasonal workers and make it easier for them to remain in the area without having to get other work.
Reeve Sterling noted the RM council also had a meeting immediately prior to the SARM convention, and dealt with a few items, including a delegation from a dairy producer, Dale Pretty, looking to expand his operation.
The RM also received word that the annexation of the quarter section on the east side of the City of Weyburn for the “Creeks” development has successfully gone through.
The council also dealt with three development permits, and construction has begun on one of the projects, a new location for E. Bourassa across Highway 13 from Young’s Equipment.