Mayor Jim Vewchar and five members of Canora town council attended the 115th annual convention of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) from February 2 to 5 at Queensbury Convention Centre and International Trade Centre (ITC) in Regina.
Councillors joining Vewchar in Regina were: James Trofimenkoff, Brad Gabora, Sheldon Derkatch, Eric Sweeney and Kerry Trask.
Vewchar said they were pleased to hear Premier Scott Moe announce a total increase of $27 million to the municipal revenue sharing program for 2020-21.
“It’s about an 11 per cent increase, which is good news for everyone across the province,” said Vewchar. “Of course, we will have to wait and see how much we will get in Canora, according to the formula.”
Another significant change which came out of the meeting was a name change. SUMA will be changing its name to “Municipalities of Saskatchewan,” according to Gordon Barnhart, president.
“The name Municipalities of Saskatchewan encompasses all of our communities; our cities, towns, villages, resort villages, and northern municipalities, and demonstrates the true breadth and strength of Saskatchewan’s hometowns,” said Barnhart.
Vewchar said he and the five Canora town council members in attendance were able to take in a number of helpful educational sessions during the convention.
“A wide range of useful topics were covered, including emergency preparedness, building sustainable home towns, dealing with cybercrime, building a foundation for reconciliation and dealing with waste, to name a few,” said Vewchar.
He said throughout the convention, attendees were encouraged to find ways to collaborate with neighbouring towns and municipalities in an effort to increase efficiencies and cut costs. Collaboration was also encouraged in the area of applying for grants.
“The availability of grants seems to be decreasing, so if we can work effectively together with our neighbours on applications, that can only increase our chances of being successful,” said Vewchar.
There was a SaskPower presentation on ideas for decreasing the power bills generated by sports facilities, which is a significant concern for Canora and many other rural communities.
Opportunities were provided to learn more about dealing with waste, which is an issue for many communities across the province, including Canora. Due to new knowledge and awareness, past waste management standards, such as the ones used to design Canora’s present waste management system, no longer apply. The provincial ministry of environment is applying pressure for older landfill systems to be updated or replaced.
“To meet the new standards we have to decommission our dump site and create a transfer site, which is our most efficient option for Canora,” said Vewchar.
Another educational opportunity at the convention dealt with council succession. Vewchar said it was a real eye-opener, and looks forward to possibly inviting Canora students to future council meetings, where they would be able to present their ideas on how to keep Canora moving forward to a prosperous future.