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Thursday, 16 June 2011 09:01

Mayor sees value in attending nat. conference

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By John R. Statton — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Representatives from the City of Swift Current met with other municipal leaders at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) conference in Halifax, June 3-6.

The theme of the event was “Strong cities, strong communities, strong Canada.”

“It was another successful conference, and a good opportunity to chat with our colleagues from across the country,” said Mayor Jerrod Schafer.

“From cities as large as Toronto to municipalities and towns of less than 100 people, hearing the common concerns and working together towards common strategies in dealing with the federal government.”

The mayor serves as vice-chair of finance and intergovernmental relations, and also sits on an infrastructure committee.

“One of the things that you quickly learn in municipal politics, is this huge infrastructure deficit that municipalities are facing across the country,” said Schafer.

“In Swift Current, we dealt with things like upgrading our water treatment plant, we’ve already built a wastewater treatment plant, but those are concerns right across the country. Even looking at the shape of our roads this year with potholes and having to plane roads, it gets as simple as having to repair water lines and streets: it’s a huge deficit and a lot of this stuff was built in the last 40 to 60 years and it’s time to replace a bunch of it, and that’s a common theme.”

Schafer noted there were a lot of strategies discussed, and municipalities are working together, not only within the province, but nation-wide.

“Mayor (Pat) Fiacco and the City of Regina has been instrumental in hosting the infrastructure summit where they’ve looked at essentially all the different creative ways of funding infrastructure, and obviously in Saskatchewan — and right across the country — private partnerships have started to creep in,” he said.

“One of the things that FCM is really pushing towards, and we’ve received some acknowledgment in that regard, is just being at the table with the federal Conservative government to help negotiate and build the next round of infrastructure funding. That’s an important step for FCM to be involved in and have a say in how those monies will be invested in our communities.”

Schafer maintained attending conferences such as FCM is important to shed insight on what is happening in other Canadian communities. It provides a good indication on where Swift Current stacks up with other municipalities.

“I’ve noticed from being on council that when I drive to other communities I’m more aware of the roads that I drive on, or take a look at the infrastructure they’ve got,” he said.

“I think it’s always good to see the opportunities that Swift Current needs to capitalize on, look for areas that we can improve upon as well, and be proud of the areas we’re doing good in too.”

Councillor Dan Martens accompanied the mayor to the conference.

 “One of the sessions I was in, talked about infrastructure, and are city has done well in terms of wastewater and our fresh water supply,” said Martens.

“Many communities are really struggling with that, and it was just good to see that many of the large projects are behind us now or presently approved, such as our water treatment plant. Many communities are facing real challenges when it comes to that, and the seriousness of that when in comes to health concerns, so even though it’s something that we take for granted it is a very important ingredient to a community.”

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