The AMM Board of Directors held its final meeting of 2014 on December 11.
Following a review of the AMM and MTCML financial statements and a discussion around upcoming AMM events, the Board moved into municipal policy.
Alternate revenues and infrastructure was the first item on the agenda, with the Board reviewing news releases by the Manitoba Liberals and AMM’s statement supporting the Liberal pledge to dedicate a true 1% to municipalities. The Board also reviewed provincial news releases regarding the Municipal Bridge Program and the Municipal Roads Improvement Program, and a PC news release regarding NDP spending on infrastructure.
On the New Building Canada Fund, the Board reviewed numerous federal news releases that included quotes from the AMM around projects in southeast and central Manitoba approved under the Small Communities Component of the Building Canada Fund, as well as a news release highlighting MP James Bezan’s presentation regarding the New Building Canada Plan at the Cities Caucus meeting in Selkirk in October.
The Provincial Throne Speech was also highlighted, in particular a commitment to a streamlined portal for infrastructure program information and applications in partnership with AMM, commitments to increase the municipal road budget, and double funding for municipal bridges. The PC Party also delivered an “alternate throne speech” and outlined some commitments that the AMM will track leading up to the next provincial election.
The Board was then updated on the integration field consultant funding that will be administered by AMM to assist amalgamating municipalities with issues such as human resources.
Next, the Assiniboine River Basin Conference held November 12-14, 2014 in Regina, SK was discussed. President Doug Dobrowolski and Vice-President Ralph Groening attended this conference and noted positive progress was made, although it will be a multi-year process to get an organization and board well established. There is concern with the lack of attendance by provincial elected representatives from Saskatchewan, as buy-in from all three provinces/states is needed to move forward.
The Board then reviewed the AMM’s draft submission on the provincial Surface Water Management Strategy and the proposed New Approach to Drainage Regulation, and was asked to submit additional comments.
The AMM Executive met with Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship on November 5 to review proposed changes to the Conservation Districts Act. The Department requested feedback from AMM specifically on the proposed process for withdrawal from district membership. The Board suggested a 12 month requirement instead of 18 months for written notice of withdrawal. The Board also discussed involvement of urban centres and that automatic appointments may not be the best model as they may already fit under one of the sub-districts in the CD. One of the main challenges, particularly where urban centres are concerned, is establishing an equitable funding structure.
The Cosmetic Pesticide Ban was then raised, with the Board reviewing a letter from Minister Mackintosh in response to the AMM’s August 28, 2014 letter regarding the estimated costs that will result from recent legislation to ban the use of synthetic pesticides. The Minister did not agree with the high cost estimates the AMM referred to. The Board agreed to send a follow-up letter to Minister Mackintosh requesting more specific information regarding the positive examples of communities mentioned in the Minister’s letter.
The Board reviewed a letter from Public Utilities Board (PUB) Chair Reg Gosselin regarding a consultation to identify the issues that should be examined by the PUB when considering rate applications from regulated utilities. President Dobrowolski indicated that the board should have someone with municipal experience. President Dobrowolski also advised that the PUB should not require municipal utilities to use their reserves to subsidize a rate increase as the reserve might be needed for other tasks in the future such as capital upgrades. The Board agreed to respond in writing reiterating these concerns.
Preparation for lobbying included a follow-up of Convention resolutions and a discussion around provincial responses received to date. AMM staff is currently scheduling meetings with all provincial minister early in the new year. The Hansard from the fall sitting of the legislature was also reviewed.
In other business, MMAA President Daryl Hrehirchuk gave a verbal report to the board, and the Board received a presentation on the new AMM website.
The final item on the agenda was a review of all correspondence received by the Board since the last meeting.
The next Board of Directors meeting will take place on January 22, 2015.
Posted on: January 8, 2015