Another round of June District Meetings have come and gone and the age-old process of voting on resolutions within each district, then carrying some of those on to the annual general meeting, has begun. While the annual convention is arguably the most important event municipal officials attend each year, as those resolutions passed by the entire delegate body go on to form the AMM’s lobbying position, the June District Meetings are where those resolutions are born. Believe it or not, this process has been around for almost 80 years. June District Meetings were initiated by the AMM’s predecessor, the Union of Manitoba Municipalities (UMM). This excerpt, from “With One Voice: A History of Municipal Governance in Manitoba”, explains the reasoning:
Better communication was also seen as the key to improving the UMM itself. In 1934 it introduced a new practice that has since become an institution: the June district meetings. President C.L. Stoney explained that the purpose of the meetings, to be held in each of the seven judicial districts over a two-week period in June, was to foster closer communication between the UMM and its members, and raise awareness of local concerns.
Fast forward to 2012, and the purpose of the meetings has not changed, nor has the process. What also has not changed over the years is the willingness of the host communities to go above and beyond to showcase what their area has to offer. Lucky are the AMM executives and staff members who get to experience all corners of Manitoba by enjoying some of the following:
- Parkland – Youth played a big role in McCreary, where O’ Canada was belted out by tiny Echo Desjardins (who had to stand on a chair to reach the mic) and homemade lunch and desserts were served by local high school students in the McCreary Community Centre. In total 7 resolutions were carried.
- Western – The Oak Lake School Choir performed three songs to begin the day on a high note. Not one but two long-time elected officials were honoured for 35 years of service – RM of South Cypress Reeve Earl Malyon, and RM of Cameron Reeve Wayne Drummond. The RM of Sifton had an excellent array of prizes too, from gift baskets to a lounge chair to a Texas mickey. Thirteen resolutions were carried.
- Midwestern – RM of Harrison Reeve Doreen Stapleton showcased her musical skills by playing not only the national anthem on the organ, but entertaining during lunch (which was memorable in itself – a full turkey dinner)! Each delegate also received a free bag of perogies at the end of the day, and one lucky draw winner won a barbeque. The highlight, though, was Mr. Ron Forsman graciously accepting a life membership for his many years of service to the Town of Neepawa. A total of 11 resolutions passed.
- Central – It is a well-known fact that the “hall” is often the local gathering place, without which a community runs the risk of fading away. The Village of Austin knows this very well and their brand-new hall with state-of-the-art kitchen is sure to be the gathering place for decades to come. RM of North Norfolk Reeve Neil Christoffersen and Town of MacGregor Mayor Bill Wiebe were happy to showcase their area via a slide show during registration, and Mayor Bill McKitrick of the Village of Crystal City received his 35-year service pin. Ten resolutions were carried.
Interlake – Hunt’s Country Roadhouse was the scene for this year’s Interlake district meeting, and it’s safe to say an AMM meeting has not often (if ever) taken place in such unusual surroundings. Chock-full of memorabilia running the gamut from valuable antiques to kitsch, with seating ranging from diner stools to picnic tables, it was a neat way to end the week. Our own Rural Director, RM of Woodlands councillor Trevor King, sang the anthem and Councillor Laurie Hunt, RM of St. Andrews (and owner of the Roadhouse) served a delicious lunch. A high of 17 resolutions were carried.
- Northern – The Town of Gillam was the location for this year’s Northern meeting. As is often the case for northern meetings, the day started with an early-morning flight. After opening remarks, Mayor (and AMM director) Jim Goymer took delegates on a tour of Manitoba Hydro’s Kettle Generating Station, the second largest hydroelectric generating station in the province. From there the group continued on to the Radisson Converter station for another tour and lunch before finishing up the meeting (and carrying 1 resolution).
- Eastern – Mayor Wayne Arseny welcomed delegates to the Town of Emerson, where at the direction of Eastern delegates, the meeting began at 1:00 and concluded at 5:30 with a bbq dinner (prepared by local firefighters). Delegates also welcomed a special guest to the Eastern District Meeting – Hetty Walker, County Commissioner, Pembina County USA – and carried 12 resolutions.
During each meeting, Executive Director Joe Masi, President Doug Dobrowolski, and Vice-Presidents Eileen Clarke and Roger Wilson updated members on the latest issues. This year, the Honourable Ron Lemieux, Minister
of Local Government, also attended 6 of the 7 meetings to discuss federal-provincial infrastructure programming in Manitoba. Minister Lemieux proved to be an effective facilitator and delegates were eager to share their views on what the next round of infrastructure funding should look like. As President Dobrowolski said, “this is the first time in history municipalities have had the opportunity to influence a federal infrastructure program”, and AMM members made sure their voices were heard throughout this process.
Overall, this year’s meetings went very well and our hosts did a fabulous job showcasing their communities for our members. And of course, the most important result of the meetings – the resolutions – must now be dealt with. In September, the resolutions committee, whose members are elected at each district meeting, will meet to review the 71 resolutions carried during June Districts. From there the resolutions will make their way to the Annual Convention in Winnipeg in November where several sessions will be held to debate them. And while the AGM tends to generate all the media attention and excitement, let’s not forget where the whole process began…at the 78th annual June District Meetings!