The annual SARM convention, being held this year in Regina, has delegates from all of the province’s rural municipalities in attendance. There, they attend various workshops, hear from the provincial government, take in trade shows, and much more.  

One of the attendees this year is the reeve of the R.M. of Weyburn, Norm McFadden. This is his third time attending the convention as the reeve, and there are a number of things he looks forward to seeing when he goes. One of those is the trade show, which he took in on Wednesday. 

“Most of us who are from a farming background look forward to the trade show,” McFadden chuckled. 

Of course, the trade show wasn’t the only thing happening at the convention. We caught up with McFadden shortly after the delegates had heard from the provincial government, with a speech from Premier Scott Moe, and then the bear pit session. 

“We had Premier Moe address everybody, and that was an encouraging speech, I guess, you know, considering the times we’re in right now, and then it rolled into the bear pit session and lots of good questions, and of course, not every question gets answered directly.” 

One of the highlights of the speech from Moe was the announcement of an increase in municipal revenue sharing. The provincial formula sees three-quarters of one percent of the total revenue from the provincial sales tax, from two years prior, paid out to municipalities. This year, the amount will be going up to $342 million, a 14 percent increase from the amount paid out in the 2023-24 budget. 

“New money is always welcome, regardless of how much it is, right?” McFadden said of his reaction to the announcement by the premier. “Everybody always wants more, but you know what? At the end of the day, any money we get is still taxpayers’ money; it’s not like it’s free money.” 

The bear pit session included questions to the cabinet about education, school boards and local governance, all things McFadden paid close attention to. 

“You get the chance to talk with people from other parts of the province, and some of these people are involved with their local school in the smaller towns, and you hear about some of the challenges they have in the small towns compared to the larger centers, and everybody has their own unique problems, and at the end of the day, people need to get involved with their school board and guide them to where we need to be going instead of just complaining or standing on the sidelines,” McFadden related. He also shared that was why he got involved in local politics – he wasn’t fully aware of how things were, so got involved instead of just being on the sideline.  

The issue of local governance was one he said is commonly brought up at the SARM convention. During the bear pit session, one delegate asked when the provincial government would just let the local people get things done, which received a loud round of applause.  

“When you do get a chance to talk to others throughout the province, and some of the challenges they’re going through, and there’s times where it’s a real head-scratcher,” McFadden explained about the issues that rural municipalities can face.  

“I like to believe that we have a lot of intelligent people on R.M. councils throughout the province,” he continued. “For the most part, I think we could make as good a decision or better at the local level, especially when it’s affecting local people and local issues.” 

McFadden also noted this year is a year for the councillors for odd-numbered divisions and reeves across the rural municipalities of the province to be elected.  

“Here’s a chance for anybody who wants to make a change or get involved,” he stated. “There’s lots of opportunity for anybody at any level.”