OPINION: Time for the province to review rural governance

A brand-new bridge in the RM of Clayton collapsed within hours of it being open to the public. The RM is saying there was no geotechnical investigation done before the bridge was built, something that’s highly irregular.

When the CBC looked to see if RMs had employment harassment policies, out of the 88 that responded, 29 said they didn’t have one. That’s despite it being required by law since 1996.

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Very few of the positions up for election on RM councils this year are actually seeing more than one person run. In fact, some of them aren’t seeing anybody run for them, period.

All these facts point to one thing: RMs are too small to fulfill what we expect out of them in today’s world.

There are 296 RMs in Saskatchewan. The average RM has a population of 590 people. The smallest, Glen McPherson, has 72 people, while the largest, Corman Park, which surrounds Saskatoon, has 8,568.

Looking at those numbers, how is your average RM supposed to have the tax base necessary to pay for the specialized expertise that’s required to make sure items like legal human resources requirements and bridge construction are done properly?

I don’t see how it can. Having 296 RMs means that they have to be staffed with lots of generalists. There really is no room for the type of specialization and experience that can stop RMs from getting into trouble when a unusual situation comes up.

It’s time for the provincial government to review how our rural areas are governed. The system we have now, built for a different world where there were more people living out of the farm, isn’t working so well nowadays.

There’s lots of examples out there that can be looked at, from Alberta’s county system, which is more centralized to BC’s  more collegial regional district system, where rural and urban areas work together.

It’s time to talk about what needs to be done to make a system that works.

What do you think?

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