Council members from across the province attended the Association of Manitoba Municipalities' annual convention last week, with about 700 municipal representatives in attendance in Winnipeg.
"It was really good to get back together in person," shares Boissevain-Morton Head of Council, Judy Swanson. "It was really energizing to see everybody back and meet acquaintances that we hadn't talked to for a while. Our western caucus is part of that, but we're a small part of a big group and it was nice to get the big group together. So, over all it was a great few days!"
Provincial funding for municipal projects
Swanson participated in forwarding a resolution to the Province regarding funding to municipalities, that spoke to the acquiring of funds for municipal projects.
"We felt that our funding has been froze for the last 7 years. Of course, our expenses have not been frozen," she explains. "Not only is the funding frozen, but it's a per capita funding. So, for smaller municipalities, for roads and bridges ... some municipalities are getting about $36,000 per year. If you're doing a bridge, it's over $1 million just to start. So, it takes a lot of years at $36,000 a year to even begin to build a bridge or fix a bridge."
Swanson adds the province needs to look at this more seriously as smaller municipalities will 'fall further and further behind unless they look at it."
She notes the ministers did receive their request, and confirmed that there will be changes coming, but due a pending bi-election those changes cannot be announced at this time.
Please listen to more on this issue with Mayor Judy Swanson and CJRB's Barry Lamb below.
Boissevain-Morton lagoon project
Council members also met with the cabinet ministers affiliated with the building of Boissevain-Morton's new lagoon. Swanson shared their frustration. "I just said it's been a frustrating process. It's been 6 1/2 years that I've been working on this, and we've been working as a council on this. We have consultants and we have done the process the way its set out to do and now we're afraid we're going to miss some federal funding because there was the opportunity two years ago for the 1/3-1/3-1/3 share [municipal-provincial-federal funding] which would make a huge difference to us."
"Plus the cost of these things are going up and up and up," she adds, "and what we did as far as our funding was 4 years ago. Well, the costs have gone up considerably since then."
Swanson notes the minister will be looking at the Boissevain project as to what their next steps will be, "because he understood that we are not in the position to do this on our own. There's no municipality in any form can take on $15 million worth of debt. We're not prepared to do that, and they understood that."
Turtle Mountain Provincial Park
"We also talked to the minister about Parks and Recreation," explains Swanson. "We're concerned about our Turtle Mountain Provincial Parks and how they haven't been kept up like they should be. We asked that they look at either partnering with us or picking it up. Because tourism is a big part of our day-to-day life around here."
"They did assure us there would be further announcements coming regarding parks so we will wait and see, but we did offer to partner with them if we needed to," she adds.