The Government of Saskatchewan extends deepest condolences to all the families and friends of those affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.  Support services and resources are available

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2016 Winter

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1. Managing Conflict of Interest

Identifying and managing conflict of interest maintains the public’s trust and confidence in their local government. That’s why the province has recently strengthened municipal legislation to help municipalities ensure proper policies, procedures and practices are in place.

The Ministry of Government Relations has developed resources and sample forms to help municipalities get a better understanding of the changes made to declaring conflicts of interest.

Here’s a short list of some of the most common questions we’ve received from municipalities:

  1. Are there any exceptions to conflict of interest rules?

    Legislation lists many situations that may arise while conducting municipal business where the need to declare a conflict of interest would not apply.  For instance, a conflict of interest would not exist when a motion to pay the monthly utility bills is presented to council where a member of council is employed by SaskPower.   Council members are also not considered to be in a position of conflict when setting the tax policy for the municipality, or when setting remuneration for members of council.  A full list of the situations where the need to declare a conflict of interest does not apply can be found in subsection 143(2) of The Municipalities Act, subsection 115(2) of The Cities Act, and subsection 161(2) of The Northern Municipalities Act, 2010

  2. All of council has a membership with the local Co-op, so how does the council make decisions regarding the Co-op?

    A conflict would generally not exist when members of council are also members of the local co-operative; however, a member of council who is a member of the Co-operative Board should disclose the information on his or her disclosure statement and may be required to declare a conflict with respect to decisions regarding the Co-op.

  3. Does the mayor or reeve have additional powers or duties in relation to a declaration of a conflict of interest?

    No. The mayor or reeve does not have any additional authority with respect to conflict of interest declarations made by other council members; however, after a member of council has made a declaration at a meeting, the person who is presiding over that meeting must ensure that the person who has made the declaration:

    • states the general nature of the conflict including any pertinent material details;
    • abstains from all discussion and voting; and
    • leaves the room while the discussion and voting are taking place.

    The administrator records all of these details in the meeting minutes.

  4. Does the administrator “police” the filing and upkeep of public disclosure statements?  Who makes sure the statement is updated if there is a change to a council member’s interests and holdings?

    There is no change to the role of administrators in terms of the regular upkeep and filing of council members’ statements.  The administrator has a duty to advise council members of their legislative duties; however, the onus is on each member of council to fully disclose all required information on the public disclosure statement.  The Ministry expects all council members will respect and abide by the legislative requirements.

    The onus remains on council members to ensure statements are updated when interests change.  There is no requirement for the administrator to “police” the filing and upkeep of public disclosure statements.

  5. What happens when a councillor refuses to fill out the disclosure statement?

    If the ministry is notified that a council member has not filed the disclosure statement, the ministry will first contact the municipality to determine if the information is correct.  Depending on the situation, the ministry will work with the member of council to determine the delay.  If the member refuses to comply with the requirement, other members of the council will be notified and reminded of the requirement that a member that fails to file the statement is disqualified and must resign from council.  If the member continues to not comply with the requirement, a voter or the council can apply to the Courts to have a judge determine if the member should be disqualified.

  6. Is a member of council required to update their public disclosure form every time they declare a conflict of interest at a meeting?

    No. A member is not required to update their disclosure form if the potential conflict has already been disclosed in the public disclosure statement.   Because there is an ongoing duty of disclosure, if a conflict that was not originally on the form is declared, the member should provide a written amendment to the administrator as soon as possible after the declaration has been made – when the matter declared is information that is required on the public disclosure statement .

  7. Does council have the ability to extend the time to file a public disclosure statement for up to 90 days, just as there is for the council procedures bylaw? 

    No.  The Cities Act, The Municipalities Act and The Northern Municipalities Act, 2010 each provide authority for a council to extend the time to complete a council-related matter.  The public disclosure statements are a requirement for each individual council member and do not fall under this authority.

  8. The Barclay report recommended a private disclosure, so why does our legislation include public disclosure?

    The amendments went further than Mr. Barclay recommended, in order to:
    • be consistent with other jurisdictions;
    • provide members of the public with the right to know the financial interests of council members, to avoid conflicts; and
    • be consistent with the public disclosure statements filed by MLAs.

Disclosure statements that were previously required under The Cities Act or that other municipalities chose to implement were already required to be open to the public, so reverting to private statements would have been a step backward in terms of public transparency.

The amendments to the legislation now require a public disclosure statement within 30 days of being elected, and must be updated annually and whenever a conflict that has not been previously disclosed in the public statement is declared during a council meeting. The statements are available for public inspection during normal business hours.

A more detailed listing of some common questions can be found on our Conflict of Interest webpage.

If you would like to speak to someone directly, contact a Municipal Advisor at:

  • 306-787-2680
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2. Enforcing Nuisance Bylaws

Municipal legislation gives municipalities the authority to regulate nuisances, and take enforcement action when it is deemed appropriate to do so. As a result of recent successful legal challenges against municipalities, municipal councils may consider reviewing their nuisance bylaw enforcement procedures to ensure actions taken do not exceed the authority of the local government.

Nuisances typically involve situations where the condition of a person’s property negatively impacts other people’s ability to enjoy their property. Nuisance situations should be assessed on external factors only. If a municipality considers it is necessary to inspect a dwelling’s interior to determine the appropriate remedial action, the municipality should obtain the owner’s consent in advance, or secure a warrant to carry out the inspection.

Municipalities are encouraged to ensure remedial orders are specific and measurable. Using language which may be interpreted to include items which might otherwise not be part of a remedial order may result in the order being struck down by the courts. Make sure the order identifies only those items which are the order’s subject, and ensure the person to whom the order is directed is informed of their right to appeal the order.

Enforcement should be undertaken by officials whom council has specifically designated. Enforcement efforts may be compromised if council members, or people other than designated officials, are involved in enforcement activities.

Municipalities are encouraged to review the relevant legislation and the Municipal Nuisance Guide, or contact a Municipal Advisor at:

  • 306-787-2680
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3. 2016 Local Government Elections

Municipal general elections will be held later this year. With this said, deadlines are fast approaching for councils to exercise discretionary authority respecting certain matters.

  1. To change the size of council: 
    • In resort villages, the deadline was January 31; 
    • In other urban municipalities, the deadline is April 28; 
    • In northern municipalities, the deadline is March 24, March 31, or April 7, if council chooses an earlier Election Day pursuant to subsection 10(3) of The Local Government Election Act, 2015
    • Not applicable in rural municipalities – refer to altering division boundaries.

  2. Council may exercise discretionary authority for these matters after the end of March; further information will be available in a future edition of Municipalities Today
    • To require a Criminal Record Check with a candidate’s Nomination Form; 
    • To appoint a person other than the administrator or clerk as the returning officer – not in rural municipalities; 
    • To require disclosure of campaign contributions and expenses or impose campaign spending limits, or both; 
    • To permit ballots to be arranged in random or rotation order – not in rural municipalities; and 
    • To prepare and use a voters list.

If you have any questions about The Local Government Election Act, 2015, or upcoming training, please contact a Municipal Advisor at:

  • 306-787-2680
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4. Local Government Election Training

The Ministry of Government Relations, in co-operation with the Urban Municipal Administrators Association of Saskatchewan and the Rural Municipal Administrators Association, has scheduled a series of workshops to help officials carry out their duties as part of the upcoming local government General Election.

The target audience for the election workshops includes administrators, returning officers, deputy returning officers and election officials in urban, rural and northern municipalities.

Changes to election legislation and regulations came into force on January 1, 2016. Please ensure you have a copy of The Local Government Election Act, 2015 and The Local Government Election Regulations, 2015.

Workshop dates and locations are as follows:

Date 

City

Location

Address

May 25, 2016

Prince Albert

PA Inn

3620 2nd Ave. W

May 26, 2016

Yorkton

Gallagher Centre

455 Broadway St. WMay 27, 2016

May 27, 2016

Battleford

Alex Dillabough Centre

432 27th St.

May 31, 2016

Swift Current

Eagles Club

1910 Service Rd. W

June 1, 2016

Weyburn McKenna Hall 317 3rd St. NE
 June 2, 2016 Regina Travelodge 4177 Albert St. S

Mark your calendars and watch for registration details to follow.

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5. No Education Mill Rate Increase in 2016

There will be no increases in the education property tax mill rates for 2016, as the Government of Saskatchewan is maintaining rates at the same level as in the previous three years.

The government has determined the 2016 education property tax mill rates will be:

  • 2.67 mills for all agricultural property 
  • 5.03 mills for all residential property 
  • 8.28 mills for all commercial and industrial property 
  • 11.04 mills for all resource property.
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6. New Resource: Municipal Financing Tools Available to Municipalities

The Ministry of Government Relations is pleased to launch a new online resource which will give municipalities the ability to see a high-level overview of the financing tools that are available to them through current legislation.

The site has been designed to provide municipalities quick and easy access to:

  • A listing of each financing tool available to them under their respective Act;
  • A brief definition, examples and details for each of the financing tools; and
  • A note showing where the corresponding legislative authority can be found.

Access Municipal Financing Tools

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7. Regional Planning

Regional planning is an ongoing process where two or more municipalities work together to help make life better for people and businesses.  In most cases, this includes preparing for future growth and development of their region.

Regional planning is a proven and effective means to:

  • build municipal sector capacity;
  • create investment certainty for developers by having consistent bylaws and development permitting processes;
  • deliver cost-effective services and municipal infrastructure based on regional needs;
  • provide consistent professional planning and advisory services to municipalities;
  • co-ordinate regional economic growth strategies, goals and initiatives; and
  • effectively implement provincial priorities for growth.

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions the Community Planning Branch receives from municipalities:

  1. How can my community plan regionally?

    There are several ways in which communities can work together to achieve regional planning.  Formally, two or more municipalities can form a planning district under The Planning and Development Act, 2007, and adopt a regional plan, an Official Community Plan (OCP) and a Zoning Bylaw. In some cases, a regional plan can serve in place of a municipality’s OCP.
    Alternatively, municipalities may establish inter-municipal agreements on emergency protection, recreation or joint-administration.  Regional planning is simply another way of working together – something that municipalities do regularly.

  2. What do regional plans do?

    Plans outline where development and growth will occur in the most cost effective and efficient way for the region, the municipality and citizens. They can also identify challenges that municipalities in the region may face in the future – so that action can be taken to these challenges sooner, rather than later. For example, municipalities may need to prepare for different short and long-term growth needs that may include servicing and infrastructure such as roads, water, sewer, garbage/recycling, parks, recreation/playground facilities and emergency services.

  3. What is the difference between regional and municipal planning?

    Regional planning, also known as district or inter-municipal planning, is a means for municipalities to partner together to engage in planning. Municipal planning refers to planning that is undertaken by an individual municipality and includes items that are under the jurisdiction of that municipality alone.

  4. Can regional planning help our region grow?

    Yes.  While there are many factors involved in determining if a region will grow, engaging in regional planning ensures that communities are co-ordinating their growth plans and infrastructure investments that help facilitate growth. A lack of planning hampers the ability for development to occur in an efficient and expedited manner.

  5. What governance tools does the province provide to support regional planning?

    The Planning and Development Act, 2007, provides municipalities with three legal governance structures to pursue regional planning.  Each is formed by Minister’s Order and compromised of a regional/district board with representatives from each member municipality:

    • A District Planning Commission (DPC): an advisory body which can examine planning and development issues of regional significance;
    • A District Planning Authority (DPA): a corporate body which can make planning and development decisions and deliver other services on behalf of any or all member municipalities; and
    • A Regional Planning Authority (RPA): a corporate body created only for a city and its surrounding rural municipality or municipalities to undertake the creation and implementation of a regional plan. In addition to these three tools, municipalities may also enter into inter-municipal agreements with one another.

  6. My municipality doesn’t currently participate in any regional planning. Where can we start? The Community Planning Branch (CPB) delivers education and training workshops throughout the province, which includes a section on regional planning and also hosts regional planning gatherings annually. 
    With this said, regional planning can begin simply as a conversation with neighbouring municipalities in the region to discuss any similar challenges and opportunities. The Municipal Capacity Development Program (MCDP) may be able to assist with inter-municipal cooperation efforts.

Contact the Community Planning Branch to find out more about how to form a planning district, and what the process might look like at:

  • 306-787-2725 (Regina office); or
  • 306-933-6937 (Saskatoon office).

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