The Executive Committee from the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association showcased a united front today, as they continued to push the provincial government to engage in meaningful consultation with the province’s more than 440 hometowns left reeling by the significant cuts and downloading delivered in the provincial budget.
In addition to stripping $36 million of payments in lieu from 109 hometowns, the provincial budget shuttered the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), suspended the Community Rink Affordability Grant, further reduced funding to urban parks, suspended the Main Street Saskatchewan Program, further cut funding to the Urban Highway Connector Program — which also funds the Town Urban Highway Program — and slashed funding to libraries.
“We were hopeful the meeting with four cabinet ministers on March 29 was a first step in meaningful consultation and further discussion with the provincial government,” said SUMA Vice-President of Villages, Resort Villages and Northern Municipalities Mike Strachan. “But less than two days later, before we could bring forward any suggestions, Minister Harpauer issued a press release. The decision to cap the payments in lieu cuts — but only for nine out of 109 hometowns and only at 30 per cent of their revenue sharing amount — came out of nowhere for us.”