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2022 January

Municipalities Today is a web-based newsletter published monthly by the Ministry of Government Relations. It lists deadlines, training opportunities, services and programs that may be of interest to Saskatchewan municipal administrators.

View past editions of Municipalities Today by visiting the Publications Centre.

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1. Municipal Administrators' Corner

Happy new year to all. Administrators and staff are likely preparing for year-end and new year start-up of municipalities. Remember that the Municipal Administrator' Legislative and Operational Calendar is available for assistance with specific reminders.

Tax Enforcement Tips

Any time after January 31 but by November 15, municipalities can proceed with the tax enforcement process. Administrators are encouraged to start the process earlier rather than later to avoid unforeseen problems.

The following tax enforcement documents and forms are available for viewing on the Municipal Tax Enforcement page:

  • Documents that are alphabetical (for example Form A – Tax Lien) are prescribed forms and can also be found in The Tax Enforcement Regulations.
  • Documents that are numerical (for example Form 1 – List of Land Arrears) are not prescribed, but samples are provided for you to use and alter as required.

A refresher on the tax enforcement process is available by viewing the recorded Tax Enforcement Webinars Part 1, 2 and 3 that provide step-by-step instructions about this process.

Road Maintenance Agreements (RMAs) Regulatory Changes

The Government of Saskatchewan amended The Municipalities Regulations related to RMAs, which came into effect on January 1, 2022. A sample RMA template is available for municipalities and industry to use when creating an agreement.

Gravel Extraction Licence Maximum Fee Rates

The updated maximum gravel extraction rates for 2022 and 2023 are now in effect.

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2. 2022 Municipal Elections for Rural Municipalities

Rural municipalities (RMs) will have elections for even-numbered divisions on November 9, 2022. The Election-Byelection Scheduling Tool has been updated. To enter an election date, use the month/day/year format, for example 02/09/2022. All forms are available on the "election forms and links" tab.

If there is a resignation in 2022, RMs are not required to hold a byelection within six months but can choose to wait until the general election date. If the resignation is for an odd-numbered councillor or the reeve, the byelection shall be held with the general election but advertised as a byelection for a position with a two-year term. If the resignation is in an even-numbered division, the general election will be held as required.

More election materials are available for viewing under Municipal Elections in the Publications Centre.

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3. Municipal Building Bylaws and the Construction Code Act

The Construction Codes Act (CC Act) came into force on January 1, 2022 and replaced The Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards Act (UBAS Act) as the legislation which governs the construction and occupancy of buildings in Saskatchewan.

While building owners remain responsible for compliance with all construction standards, local authorities are responsible for administering and enforcing the CC Act, through the adoption of a local building bylaw and the appointment of a licensed building official. Building bylaws valid under the UBAS Act remain valid under the CCA for seven years, by which time they must be renewed or repealed and replaced. However, there are two situations where the CC Act takes priority over a local building bylaw after January 1, 2022:

  1. Local building bylaws must meet or exceed standards in the Act
    Local authorities continue to be able to use their building bylaw to require a higher standard than the standards found in the CC Act, but they cannot allow lower standards than the CC Act or to excuse building owners from having to comply with the CC Act.

  2. Local building bylaws must not conflict with CC Act
    As of January 1, 2022, if an existing building bylaw conflicts with the CC Act, then the Act will take priority over the building bylaw, even if that building bylaw did not conflict with the UBAS Act.

It's recommended that local authorities review their building bylaws to ensure existing definitions and requirements are consistent with the definitions and requirements found in the CC Act.

Farm buildings

Municipalities may want to review their building bylaw if they have standards relating to farm buildings based on the two situations listed above. Previously, a local authority may have used the UBAS Act's definition of a farm building for their building bylaw. However, the CC Act amended the definition of a farm building. The Act now excludes farm residences as being considered a farm building for the application of construction standards.

If your municipality's definition included farm residences as farm buildings, this statement in the building bylaw would be invalid, even though the rest of the building bylaw remains valid. The local authority is not able to exclude farm residences from the application of construction standards through their building bylaw. In this situation, the local authority is required to enforce the definition of a farm building as it is stated in the CC Act and not the definition found in their own building bylaw.

For more information

Please contact Building and Technical Standards at btstandards@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-4113 if you have any additional question on the wording or enforcement of the CC Act.

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4. Regulatory Changes - Board of Revision Training and Certification

The Government of Saskatchewan continues to work with municipal sector stakeholders on the Board of Revision Renewal initiative. Recent amendments to The Municipalities Regulations, The Cities Regulations, and The Northern Municipalities Regulations establish an Office of the Registrar and require all boards of revision to be certified to hear property assessment appeals starting with the 2023 taxation year. The Office of the Registrar has the authority to certify boards of revision and the application process for board certification will open in June 2022.

To assist municipalities with having a qualified board of revision, an online training program has been developed through the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS). For a board of revision to be certified, all its members and secretaries must successfully complete this training. Registration for the online training opened on January 4, 2022. There are 150 spots available with a discounted rate of 50 per cent. Use the code BOR2022 upon registration to receive a discount. The discounted spots will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more about the training program and register, visit the JSGS Board of Revision Training Program page.

Municipalities remain responsible for property assessment appeals at the first level. They may decide to appoint their own board of revision, establish, or join a district board with other municipalities or contract a private board. In each instance, the training program will provide the board of revision members and secretaries with the essential knowledge needed to conduct hearings. The mandatory training and certification of all boards of revision will ensure Saskatchewan taxpayers receive qualified property appeal services.

Details of how to apply for certification will be communicated in the coming months. For more information, visit Property Assessment Appeals.

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5. Targeted Sector Support Application Intake Closes Soon

The current application intake for projects under the Targeted Sector Support (TSS) Initiative ends February 1, 2022. Municipalities are encouraged to submit their grant applications as soon as possible.

The TSS Initiative provides cost-shared grants, up to 75 per cent on eligible costs, to municipalities partnering to strengthen their core municipal responsibilities through projects focused on regional co-operation, capacity building and good governance. Applicants must be a municipal government and partner with at least one other community, such as other municipalities and First Nations.

Examples of previously approved grants include:

  • $100,000 for assistance with the creation of a municipal district;
  • $30,000 for a regional landfill feasibility study; and
  • $13,000 for governance training for municipal officials.

Each year, TSS receives $1.5 million from the Municipal Revenue Sharing Grant program. Funds are administered by the Saskatchewan Association of Urban Municipalities (SUMA), on behalf of the TSS Steering Committee. The TSS Steering Committee consists of SUMA, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, the Saskatchewan Association of Northern Communities and the Ministry of Government Relations.

Email info@targetedsector.ca or visit the Targeted Sector Support Initiative page to learn more and apply.

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6. Deadline Fast Approaching: Municipal Revenue Sharing Grant - Declaration of Eligibility

The deadline for submission of the online Declaration of Eligibility is January 31, 2022.

To avoid the Municipal Revenue Sharing (MRS) Grant for the 2022-23 year from being withheld, ensure your municipality submits its online Declaration of Eligibility and that your municipality meets all eligibility requirements. Please refer to the Declaration of Eligibility Guide and Infographic for additional information on the declaration process and the eligibility requirements.

The unique link and password for the online MRS Grant Declaration of Eligibility was emailed to each municipality on November 15, 2021. If you did not receive it, please email grcompliance@gov.sk.ca requesting the link and password be re-sent.

A completed declaration requires a resolution from council confirming the eligibility requirements the municipality meets. The ministry does not require a certified copy of the resolution unless the municipality was chosen for a random audit. Administrators who have not yet submitted the online declaration will want to ensure the Declaration of Eligibility is on the January council meeting agenda for a resolution from council.

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