The R.M of Douglas No. 436 held its annual ratepayers meeting April 7 with twelve in attendance. Reeve Nick Partyka was nominated as chair and Administrator Charles Linnell as recording secretary.
Sherrilyn Phelps is a regional crop specialist with Agricultural Regional Services in North Battleford who made a presentation informing the audience of the re-introduction of regional extension services. With the reintroduction also came some regional office cuts, down from 32 offices throughout the province to 10. These offices are located in Prince Albert, Kindersley, Tisdale, Yorkton, Watrous, Outlook, Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Weyburn and North Battleford. Each office has a crop, forage, livestock and farm business specialist. Each of the Regional Service branches focuses on the primary producers and farm gate production. With the announcement of the new budget in March, there were seven new satellite offices added, however these offices are not regularly staffed but rather rely on the regional office staff to rotate visits to the satellite offices weekly.
The Agricultural Regional Service advises producers, agronomists, the agricultural industry and rural municipalities. Specialists in the office available to assist producers with inquiries include Morley Ayars, regional farm business management specialist; Glen Barclay, regional forage specialist; Sherrilyn Phelps, regional crops specialist; and Jenifer Heyden, regional livestock specialist.
Sherrilyn explained the ADOPT program(Agricultural Demonstration of Practices and Technologies) and shared some NW projects that have occurred such as malt barley seeding rates, inter-cropping, spray distribution of fungicides, cicer milkvetch establishment, bale grazing, salinity tolerant forages and soil amendments, to name a few.
Lenore Swystun of Prairie Wild Consulting presented the regional sustainability planning project that is being completed by RM of Douglas, Village of Speers and Village of Richard. She explained the importance and advantages of having an Official Community Plan.
OCP provides guidelines for future potential land utilization without committing the municipality to 'carved in stone' bylaws. OCPs provide and ensure a framework to guide the physical, environmental, social and cultural development of municipalities focusing on local decisions and actions. OCPs indicate that the municipality is proactive in future land use opportunities, and the process always encourages community participation.
Swystun shared the North West Enterprise Region Community Mapping and Planning program. The key goals of the NER pilot planning program were to invite municipalities to participate in a facilitated participatory planning process. Participants were asked to identify existing and future business and cooperative initiatives and capacity; reveal gaps in regional services and products; identify examples of best practices within the communities; and provide a framework for future planning and development.
The process included the following outcomes: a physical map expressing information about current and future local business initiatives; information to help with land use and strategy planning, grant applications, and other related activities; a starting point for municipalities to create an OCP; and to create opportunities for communities to act together inter-municipally to strengthen regional economic development activities.
Some key regional assets along with planning themes and objectives were identified during the series of meetings for the RM of Douglas, Village of Speers and Village of Richard.
Swystun explained the goal of LIRA is to assess their risk to infrastructure systems and the environment from extreme rainfall events and to develop and rank adaptation responses that reduce socio-economic and environmental costs. The LIRA process involves mapping the landscape, getting a weather forecast, predicting impacts, developing and ranking adaptable options and reaching informed decisions.
Following the presentations, some discussion was held regarding gopher control. Administrator Charles Linnell explained that the RM has been approved for strychnine distribution to aid in gopher control, however it can only be used until June 17.
It was mentioned that farmers will pay less for school education tax; last year was 7.08 mill and this year it is 3.91 mill.
The RM anticipates having all the RM road signage completed by the fall of this year.
It was a short yet informative meeting.