Infrastructure, rail safety big topics at SUMA

Lisa Goudy
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Mayor Deb Higgins is shown during the Dec. 16, 2013 executive committee meeting.

Rail safety was a topic of discussion on the third day of the SUMA convention.

“Rail safety is something that we’re all hearing about. It’s of great interest to most of our communities. So to be able … to make sure that current regulations are enforced I think is a priority for everyone,” said Mayor Deb Higgins. “I hear quite a bit about rail safety at home in Moose Jaw because we do have such a large rail yard right smack dab in the middle of the city but also have both major rail lines, CN and CP, travelling through the community.”

She said the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) heard from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) president Claude Dauphin on the topic of rail safety on Tuesday.

He also spoke on what is being done at the federal level and how one of their priorities is housing and high costs associated with rental housing in Canada.

“Of course, (he) spoke about infrastructure, what we’re hoping to see in the future and those are areas that they’re lobbying and working on at the federal level,” said Higgins. “So it’s good to get an update on that.”

In the afternoon, SUMA dealt with a number of resolutions, but the most important one relates to infrastructure.

“(It was) restating our support for a national infrastructure program that will provide long-term sustainable funding for infrastructure renewal right across Canada,” said Higgins. “It was a call on the federal government to release the details of what they’re proposing as soon as possible so that we can all get ready for construction seasons as soon as possible.”

Robert Watson, CEO of SaskPower, also brought up infrastructure during a presentation earlier in the day and the corporation’s goals to “rebuild their infrastructure” over next couple of years, she said.

“Really, it was a discussion on their need for infrastructure upgrades and in the long run what that may mean to our power rates as consumers of that resource,” said Higgins. “It was good to hear what the plans are for the future, but I guess (I’m) always a little bit concerned about what impact it’s going to have on each and every one of us.”

Personally, she said she enjoyed hearing from Mario Lefebvre from Quebec who spoke on the effect cities have on growth and economic development. A total of 62 per cent of Saskatchewan’s gross domestic product (GDP) is generated in Regina and Saskatoon.

In his presentation, he also mentioned how SUMA represents 82 per cent of the Saskatchewan population.  

“A majority of the jobs are created in cities and also when we’re looking at immigration, new immigrants will locate in cities in the province of Saskatchewan and that’s pretty common right across Canada,” said Higgins. “We have a huge impact on economic development and progress and prosperity in the province. So we need to make sure that cities are healthy and have the ability to continue to prosper and build the province.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, SaskPower

Geographic location: Canada, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Quebec Regina Saskatoon

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