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Yorkton Mayor talks SUMA convention issues

Delegates dealt with record 24 resolutions
Chamber mayor 72
Yorkton Mayor Mitch Hippsley attended the recent SUMA convention. (File Photo)

YORKTON - Yorkton Mayor Mitch Hippsley said the recent convention of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association was a good event because it provided a sense things were returning to normal after two years of dealing with a health pandemic. 

“I think everybody was just happy being out and about and networking again,” he said after returning from the event.  

Certainly the response of attendees was good, with Hippsley noting numbers were down only about 10 per cent from pre-COVID conventions. 

The mood was also generally upbeat. 

“There was a very positive, optimistic view of what’s going to happen in Saskatchewan,” offered Hippsley. 

Of course there were issues delegates wanted to discuss too. 

There were actually 24 resolutions put to delegates this year, which Hippsley said was the highest number in the history of SUMA. 

“So there were lots of things coming to a head,” he said, adding it was good to see delegates “giving feedback” on the various resolutions. 

Two areas Hippsley hit on as perhaps the most significant were growing municipal concerns over mental health and addictions and with the property tax assessment. 

In terms of assessment, Hippsley said everybody seemed to have concerns and there was a definite signal that assessments should be on a shorter cycle; three years instead of four, to mitigate the massive swings some property owners are faced with. 

The Yorkton Mayor said it was good that “SAMA was also there,” and that they suggested a desire “to fix it to.” However, how tax assessments are carried out “is legislated by the province,” so until they change the requirements SAMA can not change the current process. 

That means the province needs to make changes. 

“Now I think they’re hearing us. Maybe we’ve got the ball rolling,” said Hippsley, but he added change will not come quickly noting SAMA is already into the next assessment cycle so change will “take six, eight years.” 

Still the process of change has to start. 

“We just can’t keep kicking it down the road,” said Hippsley, adding it’s an issue from Regina to Springside. 

As for mental health and addictions, Hippsley said since he sits on a city mayor’s committee on the issue he is very aware of its seriousness. 

“It’s been an ongoing issue and COVID has added to it,” he said, adding it effects everyone from students to business staff, as they dealt with the pandemic on top of other issues. 

“We on the municipal level see it. It’s not our responsibility. This is a health issue, but we recognize that it’s real.” 

It is now important the province too recognize the seriousness of the issue and provide supports to deal with it. 

“It’s getting government to recognize that it’s way bigger than they realize,” said Hippsley. 

Locally, Hippsley said Yorkton is fortunate that it has SIGN which provides a range of supports for this facing mental health and addictions issues.