SASKATOON - Once again the annual SUMA convention provided an opportunity for civic leaders in the Battlefords to network and meet other municipal and provincial officials.
There were contingents representing both the City of North Battleford and Town of Battleford at the 2019 convention in Saskatoon. The North Battleford delegation included Mayor Ryan Bater and five out of six council members, plus City Manager Randy Patrick and Director of Planning and Development Jennifer Niesink.
Mayor Leslie and five out of six Battleford councillors were also there, as was Chief Administrative Officer John Enns-Wind.
Bater’s his priorities at the SUMA convention were to learn and to access information that could help the city going forward.
“It’s a chance for elected officials and administrators to come together and learn about emerging trends within civic governance, issues going on at a provincial level. It’s also an opportunity to network with our colleagues around the province. A lot of the challenges we face as a municipality are not unique, we can share experiences with other cities and other communities. Then of course there is access from people from the provincial government as well.”
The issues Bater was focused on was “maintaining the strength of council,” taking in training sessions on areas such as conflict of interest and governance.” He was also interested in what Premier Scott Moe had to say, particularly on the upcoming provincial budget.
Bater welcomed the opportunity to ask direct questions of provincial officials. A bear-pit session featuring members of the provincial cabinet was scheduled for Wednesday morning to close off the convention.
He also welcomed the chance to meet with the representatives from other cities. “To get the most out of this conference you have to invest yourself in it. You can’t skim along the top, you have to get in there and have those conversations.”
Mayor Leslie of Battleford noticed the issues on the minds of other municipal governments there included “wastewater, clean water and probably waste management … they seem to be the common aspects that communities are struggling with today.”
He noted in the last round of funding much of it went to smaller communities, while large towns and cities didn’t get as much as they expected.
“There’s definitely a lot of discussion of how do we look to regionalize a lot of different aspects – how do we regionalize employees, how do we regionalize costs, parks and recreation, how do we regionalize that.”
Mayor Leslie confirmed there were a couple of meetings scheduled between the town and provincial officials on Monday: one with the ministry of highways on safety issues, and another with the ministry of infrastructure where Leslie said he wanted to advocate for Battleford getting its fair share of funding.
Resolutions were of particular importance this year. One of those adopted by SUMA delegates was the one sponsored by the Town of Battleford in favour of the registration of all-terrain vehicles, commonly known as ATVs.
The wording called for SUMA to partner with the Saskatchewan All-Terrain Vehicle Association to advocate the provincial government create an effective ATV registration process.
“It’s about putting plates on ATVs,” said Leslie.
“Today, Skidoos, sleds do have a plate, a registration system in place. We’re just looking for the same for ATVs. Today we struggle from an enforcement and safety perspective, and I do believe the city faces that as well and anybody in the river valley for that matter – there’s no way to enforce the ATVs.”
They have bylaws in place, but in order for the peace officers or the RCMP to enforce this, “we have to catch them in the act,” said Leslie. That means having photo evidence and writing a report and identifying who it was to RCMP.
Having licence plates will give law enforcement a visual to be able to enforce it, and will also help citizens to report when they see an ATV driving erratically, said Leslie.
The SUMA resolution had been passed at Battleford town council last October, in time to be submitted to SUMA to go to the convention.
North Battleford’s mayor was among those supporting Battleford’s resolution.
“I think we share their view on that because of the challenges we see in our river valley and the destruction that ATVs cause down there,” said Mayor Bater.
When the ATV motion went to the floor Leslie spoke to the motion, citing the struggles in enforcing ATVs “driving through and tearing up the river valley.” He said this was “one way that we can identify those problem troublemakers” directly.
It turned out there was little opposition to what Battleford proposed. The ATV resolution passed easily by a show of voting cards.