Thursday October 30, 2014

Federation of Canadian Municipalities Convention in Saskatoon

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The Battlefords did not go unrepresented at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference and trade show in Saskatoon.

Over 1,600 municipal leaders were gathered for the 75th annual conference that ran June 1 to 4 at TCU Place in Saskatoon.

The event dealt with issues facing municipal leaders from across Canada. Speakers included federal NDP leader and leader of the opposition Thomas Mulcair, who spoke in the morning session June 1. A keynote speech from federal Liberal leader Bob Rae followed later on that day, and federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May spoke at the gathering June 3.

The conference also included a tribute to former Federation of Canadian Municipalities president Jack Layton during the Saturday session, a tribute attended by his widow Olivia Chow. That tribute came just before the president’s session discussion Saturday afternoon.

The gathering was billed as the largest gathering for senior municipal leaders in Canada. The leaders ranged from big city mayors such as Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi and Mississauga’s Hazel McCallion, all the way to small town elected officials and administrators from around Canada.

Among those at the conference was Mayor Ian Hamilton of North Battleford, who was there along with councillors Don Buglas, Ron Crush, Ray Fox and Grace Lang.

Foremost among the issues for Hamilton was infrastructure and the need for a new federal long-term infrastructure plan to replace the Building Canada fund which ends in 2014.

“Infrastructure was a very big theme throughout the whole conference,” said Hamilton.

The mayor said FCM and the mayors were concerned about what the replacement plan would look like and called it a priority of FCM to “negotiate and discuss with the federal government the upcoming program, whatever it is going to be.”

Hamilton said there were assurances from the federal government that another program would be in place and assurances of ongoing discussion, which he saw as positive.

Still, he said there was “no indication of what that might look like at this point in time.”

Another issue important to Hamilton at the conference was building relationships with First Nations. He said he talked to other municipalities about the issue and noted Edmonton, Saskatoon and Thompson, Man. gave presentations on what they are doing to engage First Nations residents.

“I’ve already started contacting those communities to get their information about their best practises,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton also was interested in storm sewer issues and in learning how Saskatoon dealt with the issue and what plans they have adopted.

Overall, the event proved a profitable one for the mayor and councillors in terms of networking and learning of best practices in communities throughout Canada. Hamilton said the councillors appreciated the opportunity to network with the other representatives from around the country.

Crime issues were not so much a major focus for the city at FCM, but that issue was front and centre for Hamilton earlier in the week when he attended a two-day safer communities symposium in Regina that discussed initiatives to reduce violence within the community.

North Battleford has been looking closely at initiatives such as those in Prince Albert that have been seen as successful in reducing crime. That conference also heard about the various practises in Glasgow, Scotland which have been successful in reducing crime.

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