The Municipality of Deloraine-Winchester hosted the 2019 Western District of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) Annual Meeting on June 6. Dignitaries at the head table included Joe Masi - AMM Executive Director, Ralph Groening – Reeve, RM of Morris and AMM President, Stuart Olmstead – Mayor of Carberry and Western District Director, Rhonda Coupland – Councillor, Municipality of Boissevain-Morton and Western District Director, Kam Blight, Reeve , RM of Portage la Prairie and AMM Vice-President and Brad Saluk – Reeve, RM of Brokenhead and AMM Vice President. Deloraine School students Charly Artz and Addison Crepeele sang O’ Canada to officially open the meeting.
Coupland gave words of welcome and introduced Gordon Weidenhamer, Reeve, Municipality of Deloraine-Winchester who brought greetings and welcome on behalf of council. He thanked the girls for their beautiful singing and asked everyone to join him in a moment of silence for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. “We hope you enjoy your day here and the package prepared for you and it will entice you to come back to the region to utilize our recreation areas and facilities.”
Stuart Olmstead, Western District Director spoke about the importance of meetings. “I know some of you may be overwhelmed by all the boards you are on and the number of meetings you have to attend. In the average week you probably have 2-5 meetings and then there are all the emails and phone calls. I figured it out and estimated 200 hours in meetings in one year – so for a four year term – 800 hours (33 days) in meetings. I strongly encourage you to make them count — try to learn something new or borrow good ideas, expand your mind.” He thanked Deloraine-Winchester for hosting the meeting, commended them on the community complex facility and concluded by sending a big shout out to the staff at Bren-Del-Win Lodge where his father is a resident. “I commend the staff at the care home, their professional manner — people in healthcare work very hard.”
Rhonda Coupland said it is an honour to represent the Western District on the AMM. We have had strategic planning sessions on broadband, policy, cannabis, and much more. The RMs have many shared topics. “It’s valuable to get to know each other, pass on concerns. I encourage you to talk to your neighbouring RMs and to the AMM. We have more in common than differences,” she said.
Coupland welcomed Joe Masi to the podium. Masi has been with the AMM for many years and this year is his last. “This is my last meeting — this district has a lot of characters – you are a great group of people.”
Eric Forrester, Councillor, Town of Melita was elected to be the District Resolutions Chair for 2019/20.
Ralph Groening gave the AMM President’s report. He spoke about how AMM has partnered with SK, AB and ON to increase buying power. “We are now totally trade compliant with Source Well.” He touched on some upcoming highlights including the Convention - November 25-27 and Manitoba’s 150th celebrations and the Legacy Fund. There will be a special caravan going to all communities in the province in celebration. For more information go to www.mb150.com
“I’d also like to acknowledge Deloraine-Winchester and its remarkable leader in regard to this beautiful new facility.”
Groening went on to speak about “Fair Share”. He said it is important to invest in local municipalities. “Out of all the governments the municipal is closest to the people — they know the needs and challenges firsthand.” Groening also touched on the new healthcare in Manitoba known as “Shared Health” and the education review. “AMM welcomes the education review – the funding method is antiquated. AMM urges the Province to provide new sustainable long-tern funding for education. We have a shared objective and welcome the task force to study the education funding model. Municipalities should not have to field complaints concerning school taxes,” concluded Groening.
The Honourable Jeff Wharton, Minister of Municipal Relations was scheduled to speak but was unable to attend. Eileen Clarke, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations was on hand to speak in his absence. She said being part of the AMM was the best decision she ever made. “I encourage you to go beyond your own comfort zone and take every opportunity to network. The province is currently looking at a new strategy for Economic Development. “I see this as limitless in the future. Joe has been working on this a long time and there will be funding in place. There is also the “Look North” initiative – an Action Plan for Manitoba’s Northern Economy — it’s a jewel in the rough, on the brink of mining perspectives, there is private investment in forestry and tourism is going well. People from all over the world want the “northern experience”. Clarke also spoke about urban reserves being a positive step and that Brandon is the best working example.
Kam Blight, Reeve, RM of Portage la Prairie gave a report as AMM Vice-President. Brad Saluk, Reeve, RM of Brokenhead also gave a report as AMM Vice-President. They both expressed the “Wow” factor of Deloraine-Winchester’s community complex. They spoke about Bill 2 – regarding Codes of Conduct training for councilors – a two hour on-line course which will be mandatory for councilors to have taken within six months of taking office. This Bill will come into effect Nov. 1, 2020. They also referred to Bill 25 – Taxation Tools – Cannabis Taxation Revenue Sharing. Ontario and Quebec are the only two provinces receiving shared cannabis taxation revenue. “This bill must be co-developed. The costs cannot be downloaded to the local government,” said Saluk.
A few more concerns include Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba (MMSM) that is withholding $1.4 million, wireless connectivity and Fleet Net replacement — cell service is still sparse in parts of Manitoba which is a safety issue. A new Public Safety Communications Service (PSCS) will give 99% service coverage. “It is based on modern communication and built with modern technology keeping public safety in mind. It may take up to 3 years to complete 2018-2021. In 2020, municipalities will start to have contact from Bell to begin plans,” added Saluk.
There were four nominations for Western District Directors and following a vote, Rhonda Coupland and Stuart Olmstead will remain in this role. There was also a call out for hosts for the 2020 annual meeting. RM of Grasslands offered to host 2020 in Hartney, and the RM of Sifton offered to host the 2021 annual meeting.
* 5 year’s service pins were presented to James Watt (councilor, RM of Pipestone) Archie McPherson (Reeve, RM of Pipestone), Aileen Tucker ( councilor, RM of Two Borders)
* 20 year service pin was presented to Don Wickham (RM of Two Borders)
* 30 year pin was presented to Claude Martin (Municipality of Grassland).
Following lunch, Grant Ostir, President and COO of Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions gave a presentation.
Eight resolutions were presented and all were carried. These resolutions included:
• AMM Resolution #2001-2019 – Energy East Pipeline – That AMM go on record of supporting he TransCanada Energy East Pipeline Project.
• AMM Resolution #2002-2019 – Farmland School Tax Rebate – That the AMM lobby the Province of Manitoba so that the farmland School Tax Rebate be given back to local residents and farm operations at the 80% rebate, on a gradual basis at 60% for 2019, 70% for 2020 and 80% for 2021 to help foster greater economic growth in municipalities
•AMM Resolution #2003-2019 — That the AMM lobby the Province of Manitoba so that communities that share Emergency Room services be placed in a priority position to receive infrastructure upgrades to the main roadways between hem to further enhance the safety and effectiveness of first Responders so they can safely and effectively do their jobs enroute to the appropriate facility.
• AMM Resolution #2004-2019 — Maintaining Differential Mill Rates — That the AMM lobby the Province of Manitoba to amend The Municipal Amalgamations Act to allow municipalities to maintain differential mill rates.
• AMM Resolution #2005-2019 — Municipal Road and Bridge Program Distribution formula — That the AMM lobby the Province of Manitoba to re-evaluate the amount and distribution formula taking in to consideration the economic needs of each community
•. AMM Resolution #2006 – 2019 —Municipal Tax Autonomy — That the AMM lobby the province of Manitoba to allow municipalities autonomy to tax what is in the best interest of their constituents.
•AMM Resolution #2007-2019 — Reinstatement of Airport Services — That the AMM lobby the Government of Canada to work with NAV CANADA to have this vital service (Instrument Flight Rules approach) reinstated by reviewing the Level of Service Policy implemented in January2016; and that the reinstatement of this vital service be supported by the federal Capital Assistance Airport Program if necessary.
• AMM Resolution #2008-2019 — Drainage Licensing — That the AMM lobby the Province of Manitoba to guarantee that all municipal drainage applications be returned in 30 days for the purpose of the municipal budgeting
Following the resolutions there was a panel of health professionals presented Health System Transformation information about the new “Shared Health” program. See elsewhere in this issue for that article.
Ralph Groening gave closing remarks to conclude a successful annual meeting of the Western District of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.