The councils for the City and RM of Weyburn held a “historic” joint council meeting Monday evening to pass final approval of the new Weyburn District Plan, which has been over three years in the making.
After the two councils both passed their respective motions to approve the plan, Reeve Carmen Sterling and Mayor Debra Button signed the agreement, and afterwards handed it over to Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter, who dropped in afterwards to provide some comments.
His department will now take a few weeks to go over the plan document before giving final approval for what minister Reiter termed a model for other rural-urban areas to follow.
“What we have in this case is the City and RM governments in a very high growth area in the province where the economy is doing exceptionally well,” said Reiter, adding this is an example “for the rest of the province” of two municipalities cooperating together.
Addressing the two council bodies, Reiter said, “We’re very much in a growth agenda for the province. Part and parcel with that is cooperation.”
He said as minister he’s seen lots of examples of good cooperation between municipalities, like this one, and unfortunately many instances of tensions between municipalities.
“I’m glad to see this is on the positive side,” said Reiter, noting in the recent provincial budget that many development issues were dealt with, including the preconstruction work that will be done for the twinning of Highways 39 and 6.
Mayor Button said this plan was the culmination of over three years of cooperative work between the two municipalities.
“We are a good example of what cooperation can be,” said Reeve Sterling, noting this plan is not only for the benefit of current ratepayers, but future ones as well.
“Both the reeve and the mayor summed up what this whole process has been all about, and that’s what’s most important for the region here,” said Tim Cheesman, planning consultant who worked with the Weyburn and District Planning Commission to put this new plan together, to assist in the joint planning for the city and RM region.
He said this will show the rest of the province that the Weyburn area are leaders in inter-municipal cooperation and planning, and noted the “instrumental” role played by the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce with the commission in working on the plan.
“One of the most important things is the RM has a new plan, and the city is looking at updating their plan, and they’re working together to make this over-arching plan. It’s not another level of bureaucracy,” said Cheesman.
The mission statement agreed to by both municipalities is that the “Weyburn Planning District will be a progressive place to do business and a vibrant place to live,” said Martino Verhaeghe, director of planning and development for the city, noting the shared values of planned, sustainable economic growth, and mutually beneficial partnerships and collaboration.
One of the primary policies of the District Plan is a regional balance of interests, so that there isn’t ad hoc development in the city or RM which could hurt the region, and to ensure the region “will continue to grow in a predictable manner ensuring future phases of development benefit from a supportive and sustainable foundation.”