COVID-19 has shone a light on numerous challenges that governments are facing at all levels. This includes the lack of voice that towns and villages have in Saskatchewan.
Rennie Harper, Nipawin’s mayor, said the lack of shared information during times of COVID-19 shows that town and village voices are not seen as important as the cities, including at times when cities are discussing with the province possible solutions for province-wide problems. Harper wants to see that changed and has been lobbying for this for some time.
“The assumptions always made that cities have faced these kinds of issues, and the rest of us do not. Well, the fact is we have identical issues to the city, albeit we don't have as many resources to bring to bear, but we have identical issues.”
Not only do all communities across the province have similar issues but each one could have a different way of dealing with those issues. That is information that could be shared and all communities could learn from one another, Harper said.
While her lobbying had fallen on deaf ears in the past, Harper said she had an ally this time around in Rodger Hayward, vice-president of towns with Municipalities of Saskatchewan.
“This last meeting when the chairperson of the towns and villages sector, Roger Hayward acknowledged there does need to be a solution found for this, I think I've made my voice heard.”
Population wise, Hayward said all the towns and villages combined make up a sizable portion of the Saskatchewan population and deserve to be heard when discussing municipal issues.
It can be difficult to get all 149 mayors together but in a digital age, that can be done virtually.
Harper wants to see more frequent regular meetings with towns and villages given more opportunities to voice concerns and share resources. Harper would even like to see cities and towns and villages meeting together to share solutions to common problems.
“I just want us in our part of the world to have the same impact and to have our voices and our issues heard in the same way that cities get to do. That's my ultimate goal here.”