SARM notes

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Delegates keep status quo

A call to eliminate the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities’ midterm convention was defeated during last week’s annual meeting in Regina.

The debate arises perennially.

The RM of Benson, which raised the issue this year, said the midterm meeting held in November is a waste of money. Adding an extra day to the annual convention would make more sense.

Benson councillor Malcolm Herman said delegates to the midterm meeting last fall wouldn’t even rise to move resolutions they had submitted.

Another delegate suggested that the March meeting be cancelled in favour of a November meeting so that cattle producers in the middle of calving could attend.

But in the end, the delegates voted to keep things as they are.

A motion to move to electronic voting rather than the use of voting cards was also defeated.

Horse control sought

The provincial government should manage the feral horses that are causing concern in rural areas, SARM delegates agreed.

They voted in favour of a strategy to manage the horses, which RM of Canwood reeve Colin Hughes said are running rampant. He said the horses are coming from nearby First Nations reserves.

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“They are out four seasons of the year, in our crops, in our hay pens, in our grain piles and bags, with no compensation to the ratepayers,” he said.

The RM caught 59 horses last year, which it impounded and then sold when they weren’t claimed.

“After the proceeds, the RM lost $300 to $500 per horse, all on the ratepayers’ backs,” Hughes said.

However, he said he is more worried about safety. There is a lot of snow in the Canwood area, and the horses travel on roads to find feed. Several have been hit, and someone could be killed, he said.

“Do we have to wait and be reactive instead of proactive?”

New directors named

Two new directors joined SARM’s board after elections at the annual convention.

Carmen Sterling, reeve of the RM of Weyburn, is the new director in Division 1. She replaces Don Taylor, reeve in Saltcoats, who retired after 20 years in that position.

In Division 5, Judy Harwood, reeve of the RM of Corman Park, defeated incumbent Ron Stevens from the RM of Vanscoy.

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Division 3 director Doug Steele, reeve of Gull Lake, was re-elected by acclamation.

Recreation tax sought

SARM delegates say recreational facilities should be in a separate class from other commercial properties for tax purposes.

They noted in a point of privilege resolution that golf courses, skating rinks and other facilities are assessed as commercial properties at 100 percent of their value. The facilities can be owned privately, by municipalities or by non-profit organizations, and tax situations can range from full abatement to no adjustment at all.

Delegates agreed this creates an uneven playing field and plan to lobby government to investigate im-plementation of a recreation tax class for rural and urban municipalities.

Dealing with effluent

Winter spreading of septic effluent should be allowed under specific controlled conditions, SARM delegates said.

Liquid domestic sewage currently can’t be spread on frozen ground, but a point of privilege resolution brought forward noted it is the only option available for some municipalities where the lagoons can’t handle more volume or the cost to take that effluent elsewhere is too high.

Delegates voted to work with the province to find temporary solutions for the problem.

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