Heritage buildings resolution passes; merger resolution defeated

2020 SUMA convention

A Battleford-supported resolution on heritage buildings passed at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Convention Monday, while some other contentious resolutions went down to defeat.

The heritage buildings resolution called for the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association to “advocate the Government of Saskatchewan to work with SEDA to develop programs with sustainable funding to assist municipalities in rehabilitating their downtowns and historic spaces and buildings.” The town of Battleford had submitted this resolution last fall to SUMA. It passed easily when it went to the floor Monday.

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There were 20 motions on the floor of the SUMA convention Monday. While most motions were approved, several went down to defeat.

The most contentious one floated the idea of merging SUMA with SARM (the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities). The resolution called for SUMA to invite SARM to “engage in exploratory discussions to merge the two associations into one new unified municipal association.”

But sentiment on the floor was that a new organization might exacerbate splits already seen within SUMA in priorities between bigger and smaller communities.

“We’ve got to get our own house in order and represent our whole sector,” said Greg Dionne, mayor of Prince Albert.  “We have a divide between the cities in our own organization.”   

The merger resolution was defeated.

Another defeated resolution called on SUMA to advocate the province  “make necessary legislative changes to clearly and legally permit municipalities to regulate operating hours of liquor stores” to more effectively manage alcohol.

But Prince Albert mayor Dionne spoke against this as well, saying this would create what he termed a “hodgepodge” of different operating hours in different communities.

“That won’t work, because then they’ll go outside the municipalities to the RMs and open these stores and operate,” said Dionne.

He said municipalities needed to be united on the same front, suggesting there should be a unified provincial strategy on the liquor hours issue.

Also defeated was a motion that would have called for a change of the 2024 municipal election date from November to May. An amendment that would have moved the date to March was also voted down.

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