Media

Media releases from SUMA.

SUMA and SARM Respond to Bank and Credit Union Closures in Saskatchewan

July 14, 2017

The spate of recent bank and credit union closures in hometowns across Saskatchewan is raising concern for both the associations representing municipalities in the province. The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) want to ensure residents have access to banking close to home.

“SUMA believes in the importance of access to financial services for local governments, businesses, and residents in Saskatchewan’s hometowns,” said SUMA President Gordon Barnhart. “While we understand the financial industry needs to adjust to a changing landscape and an increase in online banking, we are concerned about these closures.”

Businesses owners and residents of rural and small-town Saskatchewan rely on convenient access to banking. The loss of banks and credit unions affects their ability to conduct business, and is compounded by the potential to lose business when locals are travelling to another community to do their banking. Farmers and ranchers rely on closer contact with loan officers within their local bank.

“SARM too understands the importance of financial services for local business and residents in rural Saskatchewan,” stressed Ray Orb, President of SARM. “Although we understand the trend toward online and mobile banking, rural broadband connectivity and reliability continues to be an issue for rural Saskatchewan, and the closure of rural banks across the province is cause for concern.”

At minimum, SUMA hopes these financial institutions will consider providing the full suite of services available at the counter through ATMs. This would allow everyday banking to continue in Saskatchewan’s hometowns, and provide access to more residents, businesses, and local governments.

Both associations recognize the important role the bank and credit union plays in rural and small-town Saskatchewan, and hope RBC, TD, CIBC and Credit Unions will reconsider their decision. They welcome the opportunity to discuss solutions for residents, business owners, and local governments across our province.

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SUMA CEO Retiring This Fall

June 26, 2017

Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) President Gordon Barnhart announced today that Laurent Mougeot is stepping down after 12 years as SUMA’s Chief Executive Officer.

Mougeot’s last day will be September 22, 2017. A search for SUMA’s new CEO will start in the coming weeks.

“Laurent has been a strong leader on the local government scene,” said Barnhart. “He has been an invaluable advisor and a good friend to many in the municipal world — in Canada and abroad. A true career civil servant, Laurent has worked with northern communities, rural municipalities, and the entire urban sector. I expect that he will continue to make a significant contribution to local governance in whatever role he decides to take on in the future. Our Board and staff will miss his wise counsel and his sense of humour.”

Mougeot said he plans to take some time off and travel before considering new opportunities.

“Forty years goes by quickly when one enjoys work as much as I did. I have met and worked with so many great people and developed strong friendships.” Mougeot said. “SUMA and our member municipalities play a key role in defining our quality of life. Every day we all access at least half a dozen of municipal services without ever thinking about the complexity of our municipal operations. Local governments matter a lot in our lives!”

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Local Government Summit

June 01, 2017

The second edition of the Local Government Summit was held today in Ottawa, in advance of a conference for provincial and territorial ministers of municipal affairs scheduled for July in Regina. Saskatchewan municipal association presidents Ray Orb (Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities) and Gordon Barnhart (Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association) co-chaired the summit of municipal association presidents from Canadian provinces and territories.

President Barnhart, co-chair of this year’s summit stated: “It was great to meet my colleagues from across Canada and listen to their challenges. Even in a large country like ours, our communities are very much facing similar fiscal pressures. This second edition of the summit was a success and paves the way for a bright future to meet the expectations of our residents.”

The summit reaffirmed three fundamental principles to build a new relationship between provincial and municipal governments.

First, recognizing the role of local governments is essential. Several Canadian provinces are moving in this direction. Quebec’s Bill 122 and New Brunswick Bill 44 are the most recent example of progressive legislation in this regard.

Second, it is important to continue to strengthen the partnership between the two orders of government. This relationship must be based on an ongoing dialogue on the issues and increasing municipal autonomy and responsibilities.

Third, the rapidly evolving role and responsibilities of today's municipalities require an in-depth review of their revenue sources. Currently available revenue sources are no longer appropriate for Canadian municipalities.

Presidents of provincial associations concluded the meeting with a commitment to continue these annual meetings and the ongoing dialogue on our common issues. They also agreed to undertake further work on the various sources of income of municipalities across the country to find the best tools for community development.

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Towns and Villages Gather at SUMA Sector Meeting

May 25, 2017

More than 100 representatives from Saskatchewan towns and villages are meeting in Saskatoon today for the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) annual stand-alone sector meeting.

“This is a great chance for our members to discuss common concerns and solutions,” said Vice-President of Towns Rodger Hayward. “It’s the third year we’ve held a meeting like this outside our annual convention, because the response has continued to be so positive. Hometowns are where innovation happens — necessity is the mother of innovation after all — and SUMA is happy to facilitate these important discussions.”

“SUMA’s smaller members have a lot of knowledge to share,” agreed Vice-President of Villages, Resort Villages, and Northern Municipalities Mike Strachan. “These meetings are where we get to work together, sharing what works and finding new solutions. Everyone wins when we work together.”

Along with time to discuss shared issues and solutions, attendees will hear from Government Relations Minister Donna Harpauer and see a presentation on solid waste management, delivered by staff from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment.

“I know I speak for my co-host Mayor Strachan when I say it’s a pleasure to host an event like this,” said Hayward. “We are especially happy to have Minister Harpauer joining us. SUMA and our members always appreciate the chance to hear from our counterparts in the provincial government.”

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SUMA Renews Call for Meaningful Consultation as Bill 64 Becomes Law

May 12, 2017

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Province’s Bill 64 Strips Hometowns of Revenues and Rights

April 24, 2017

The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) voiced its objections again today against Bill 64, An Act to amend The Power Corporation Act and The SaskEnergy Act.

“Bill 64 strips 109 hometowns of payments in lieu they are legally entitled to, and gives the provincial government the power to redirect these royalties to the general revenue fund,” said SUMA Vice-President of Cities, Bob Maloney. “Even worse, the bill strips hometowns of their legal right to defend those agreements before the courts or be compensated for their loss.”

Responding to comments last week from Government Relations Minister Donna Harpauer, SUMA Vice-President of Towns Rodger Hayward said “She asks if it’s reasonable for two orders of government to spend money to fight it out in court. We ask if it’s reasonable to pass legislation that denies local governments the ability to defend legal agreements — or be compensated for this loss of revenue.”

These agreements covered capital investments and they included a guarantee that the municipality would forever get royalties on future sales of power. 

Read more in the full release below.

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SUMA Calls for Meaningful Consultation as Hometowns Reopen Budgets

April 10, 2017

The Executive Committee from the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association showcased a united front today, as they continued to push the provincial government to engage in meaningful consultation with the province’s more than 440 hometowns left reeling by the significant cuts and downloading delivered in the provincial budget.

In addition to stripping $36 million of payments in lieu from 109 hometowns, the provincial budget shuttered the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), suspended the Community Rink Affordability Grant, further reduced funding to urban parks, suspended the Main Street Saskatchewan Program, further cut funding to the Urban Highway Connector Program — which also funds the Town Urban Highway Program — and slashed funding to libraries.

“We were hopeful the meeting with four cabinet ministers on March 29 was a first step in meaningful consultation and further discussion with the provincial government,” said SUMA Vice-President of Villages, Resort Villages and Northern Municipalities Mike Strachan. “But less than two days later, before we could bring forward any suggestions, Minister Harpauer issued a press release. The decision to cap the payments in lieu cuts — but only for nine out of 109 hometowns and only at 30 per cent of their revenue sharing amount — came out of nowhere for us.”

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Provincial Government Punishing Hometowns

March 28, 2017

Saskatchewan hometowns are reeling this week as the reality of the provincial budget continues to sink in. The 2017 provincial budget stripped $36 million of payments in lieu from Saskatchewan’s urban municipalities — a move that the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) is calling on the provincial government to reverse.

“We expected last week’s provincial budget to be tough, but nothing prepared us for the crisis some of our members now face,” SUMA President Gordon Barnhart said. “The province has eliminated $36 million in funding from more than 100 hometowns without consultation after most municipalities’ budgets have already been finalized. Many councils will need to hike property taxes to stay in the black.”

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SUMA Relieved “Solemn Promise” of Revenue Sharing Maintained, Disappointed by Continued Downloading

March 22, 2017

The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) was relieved that today’s provincial budget maintains what Premier Brad Wall has called the “solemn promise” of the municipal revenue sharing program, but remains concerned about the many small ways Saskatchewan’s hometowns are forced to bear the burden through provincial downloading.

“Our cities, towns, villages, and northern communities are no strangers to making tough choices when it comes to their budgets,” said SUMA President Gordon Barnhart. “SUMA members balance providing programs and services that are vital to quality of life in this province, with limited ways to generate revenue and being unable to run operating deficits at all, let alone for several years.”

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Conference Board of Canada Report on Sustainable Public Policies

March 06, 2017

The Conference Board of Canada recently completed a report entitled “Reinventing the West: Sustainable public policies and fiscal regimes for the 21st century.” The report, commissioned by the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) examines recent demographic and economic trends in Saskatchewan, and takes a close look at the fiscal framework between the province and municipalities, all under the umbrella of the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth.

Up to date with the 2016 Census population data, the report reveals that, for the most part, new jobs, economic diversification, and population growth occurred within Saskatchewan’s urban municipalities. “Most of the province’s population growth is occurring in its urban centres: 77 per cent of the province’s population now lives in a city, town, village, or resort village,” says Henry Diaz, Economist for the Centre for Municipal Studies at The Conference Board of Canada. “These demographic shifts are tied to fundamental changes in the composition of the province’s economy, as urbanization goes hand-in-hand with the move towards services.”  

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