Municipal members of SUMA (Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association) have been busy of late, with a gathering first on municipal policing, followed by regional meetings held around the province.
The conference on municipal police was hosted by SUMA president and Weyburn Mayor Debra Button on Sept. 26-27, and considered a number of issues related to policing, with the focus always “to keep residents safe.”
Mayor Button noted she was joined by Councillors Mel Van Betuw and Rob Stephanson, both fellow members of the Weyburn Police Commission, and city manager Bob Smith.
Some of the discussions went to helping municipalities be more cost efficient in funding their police services, and also for police forces to be more pro-active with issues in their community rather than reactive.
The gathering heard a keynote address by Christine Tell, minister of Corrections and Policing, said Mayor Button, noting some of her comments were about the levels of traffic in the southeast, which were of interest to herself with Weyburn being located on Highway 39, one of the busiest roadways in the province.
“For municipalities like Weyburn, we are concerned with the police force being cost-effective,” said the mayor, adding that some municipalities are looking at enforcement options, such as of municipal bylaws.
“Everyone wants to keep Saskatchewan safe,” added Mayor Button. “Rising costs in a growing economy is of concern to places like Weyburn.”
At the end of the session, the cities sat down together to discuss a proposal for a provincial police commission, where they could discuss policing on a regular basis. They also include the municipalities which are policed by the RCMP, so there would be a cross-section of municipalities at the table.
Two representatives of the Police Chiefs Association of Saskatchewan were also present, including the chair, Chief Troy Hagen of Regina, as they talked about the setting of priorities for the group.
“It was well-run, and everyone was pleased with the information that was provided, and the dialogue on policing which we had,” said Button.
SUMA regional meetings were then held a week later, with the southeast region having theirs on Thursday at Lampman.
Mayor Button was present, along with Mayor Mike Strachan of Torquay, the southeast director for SUMA.
“A good part of the meeting was left for dialogue to hear what municipalities are dealing with,” said Mayor Button, noting the issues included bylaw enforcement, access to housing and traffic levels on urban connector highways.
Mayor Strachan added that issues like retention of administrators were also brought up, and in regard to bylaw enforcement, some of the options discussed included towns sharing a person who could be hired to do bylaw enforcement for them.
A presentation was made by SUMA staff on purchasing program, and environmental regulation changes that will affect landfill operations, plus a presentation on assessments was made by representatives of SAMA (Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency). SAMA told municipalities some of their plans for their five-year budget, so municipalities know what they’ll be paying over the next five years for assessment services.
A presentation was made from Saskdocs that was also “very informative”.
“They explained about where they go to recruit doctors, how they’ve been able to do it, and an overview on what they do,” said Mayor Strachan.