Higgins: Useful information gathered at SUMA

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Mayor Deb Higgins and Coun. Don Mitchell are pictured at the Oct. 21, 2013 executive committee meeting. Higgins and Mitchell were two of five Moose Jaw city council representatives at the 2014 SUMA convention in Regina. Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy

With more capital budget discussions set for Friday, Mayor Deb Higgins thinks what she learned at SUMA will prove helpful.

“It’s all good information that you take with you when you’re looking at what kind of options we have for the City of Moose Jaw,” she said. “To be able to talk to other municipalities, see what they do, hear first hand from their mayors and councillors how they deal with different issues, what they’re looking at, what their priorities are — it all feeds back into the information and, I think, each and every one of our opinions as we’re working towards finalizing our capital budget over the next little while.”

She said by far the biggest issue all municipalities discussed at the four-day Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) convention was infrastructure. Wednesday was the last day of the 2014 convention.

“Of course the infrastructure area is always something that we’re interested in. Now, we can’t sit back and wait for the federal government or the province to come to our rescue by any means,” said Higgins. “We still need to be moving ahead with planning and moving ahead with doing the best we can to address the issues here in Moose Jaw.

“So that’s something that we’re going to continue on with.”

The sessions on Wednesday included several dialogue rooms dealing with different departments, including environment, government relations, health, parks, culture and sport and corrections, policing and justice.

Higgins attended the government relations and then health. In the government relations department session, she said the biggest questions for the minister responsible for that department was infrastructure.

“We encouraged them through a resolution (Tuesday), but also through discussion (Wednesday) to release details as soon as possible so that cities could prepare and be ready when anything comes forward or a long-term plan comes in place,” said Higgins.

Discussion also dealt with proposed tax increases in Regina and Saskatoon, which are potentially “considerable higher tax increases than what’s been proposed in Moose Jaw,” she said.

There was also a bear pit session with the provincial cabinet and Premier Brad Wall where attendees could ask questions. Higgins said it circulated around infrastructure and rail safety.

The other Moose Jaw councillors in attendance at the conference were Coun. Patrick Boyle, Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick, Coun. Dawn Luhning and Coun. Don Mitchell.

“We had good representation and you’re able to cover off a number of the different dialogue rooms or different workshops as we all went to different things, which I think is helpful too,” said Higgins.

She added it was a successful conference with plenty of useful dialogue.

“It was a very busy few days and I know from people who have been at many more SUMA conventions than I, they commented that this was one of the best conferences that they’d been to,” said Higgins. “They felt that it was very helpful in the topics that were discussed and provided some good information for municipalities. So that was good to hear too.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon

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