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SUMA resolutions on the minds of NB council

Council spends good chunk of the March 11 meeting considering upcoming SUMA resolutions
The scene at Monday night’s council meeting at Don Ross Centre.

NORTH BATTLEFORD - Resolutions coming before the 2024 SUMA convention in April were a prime topic at North Battleford city council Monday.

There are 11 SUMA resolutions coming up at the convention, and council discussed each of them at their meeting Monday at the Don Ross Centre, with each council member eligible to vote on them at the convention. Some of those resolutions are ones that have impacted North Battleford directly over the years.

Among the resolutions is one from the City of Prince Albert to re-establish grant funding and partner with Saskatchewan municipalities to sustain and grow urban parkways and open spaces.

That one was of interest to North Battleford because a few years ago the province of Saskatchewan had pulled out of its partnership with the City of North Battleford and Town of Battleford for the river valley, where there was shared funding.

“They withdrew from that, we still have the costs,” said City Manager Randy Patrick. “It’s a fairly large area, it’s hard to maintain with smaller populations in particular, but it’s one that’s more of maintaining and providing people access to.”

He said it was “in the city’s interest” to bring that back again, and the indication is this is a resolution North Battleford council members will support.

Another resolution calls for province to provide infrastructure funding for firefighting infrastructure such as fire hall and firefighting equipment. Patrick said this was a resolution council could consider supporting heavily, as fire equipment was among the most expensive items for the city. He said a ladder truck would be a $2 million investment, and there was no real programming to fund it. There is also a resolution from the City of Prince Albert for increased financial support for fire services. 

There is a resolution calling for the province to support and grow the public library system, mainly to address inflationary pressures and keep pace with current technologies. This one drew support from Councillor Len Taylor, who pointed to the important of the library in assisting those individuals who need access to pay telephones or computers.

“The library always was a hub in the community, but it’s become even more so for financial purposes for individuals,” said Taylor, noting the heavy use of the computer terminals there. He also pointed to the rise of borrowing electronic books and the purchasing power of the library has shifted to digital, and pointed to the costs there.

“Every time a book is borrowed, the cost goes up,” he said.

Also discussed a resolution proposed by City of Lloydminster calling to increase numbers of nurse practitioners. This has been a particular hot topic for municipalities as of late, to alleviate the shortages of health professionals in secondary centres.

Whether that resolution will still hit the floor of the convention remains to be seen, as the province announced on Tuesday morning its plans to address some of those concerns by expanding utilization of nurse practitioners in a pilot project.

Councillor Kent Lindgren was fully in support of increasing nurse practitioners working in all parts of the province, calling it “an excellent service, we should have more.”

One other request of the provincial government is regarding highway road closure authorizations. A resolution from the Town of Indian Head is calling for the province to authorize the RCMP to determine if a Sask. highway is to be closed and to install permanent activatable barriers or indicators of road closures at more points on provincial highways to alleviate the pressure on other first responders. 

“You see them in Alberta, you see them in BC,” said Patrick. The main point of the resolution is to prevent situations where people head out on highways in bad winter conditions while they are still open.

Other resolutions coming to SUMA include anti-harassment support, more supports for animal control, legislation to move unpaid fines to tax rolls, establishing regulations requiring aerial spray applicators to give notice to neighbouring municipalities when spraying within two miles, and one calling for greater local autonomy when enforcing bylaws.

The SUMA Convention takes place in Regina from April 14-17.