After having to go virtual in 2021, the annual three-day Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) Convention and Trade Show is back to being an in-person event and that alone has both organizers and delegates alike feeling excited.
“We were fortunate that we still had good virtual connectivity — that’s something we’ve been working on in rural Saskatchewan, better internet, so it’s really important to our councils, but it great to be back,” said Ray Orb, SARM president.
The convention and trade show draws roughly 2,000 delegates and guests from across the province and provides SARM members the opportunity to gather “to vote on and debate resolutions, discuss current issues, and participate in dialogue sessions with provincial and federal government officials,” according to the association.
This year’s convention and trade show will be held from March 15-17, at the Queensbury Convention Centre at Evraz Place. Masks, proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, or negative COVID tests are not required.
One of the most notable discussions of the day was a ‘fireside chat’ between with Russ Mirasty, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan and a SARM member.
“When I look at Saskatchewan today, (compared to) 10, 20, 30 years ago, I’d say we’re on the right path,” Mirasty said.
“We hear more dialogue, there’s more acceptance, even with the land acknowledgements, you know those first being spoken of at different events,” he said when speaking about ongoing reconciliation efforts in the province.
Mirasty adds one of the best things about Saskatchewan is the diversity of not just the people here, but the land and work the province has to offer in terms of its different industries.
He also took time to thank the rural delegation for their hard work.
Another noteworthy presentation from the event introduced attendees to SaskLander, a recently released app designed to help landowners with trespassing issues.
“It’s a new online service with the vision to make land access management faster, more accessible and more accountable,” said Sauvelm McClean, SaskLander co-founder.
SaskLander allows users to post the land they own on the app and then deny or give permission to those asking for access, whether that’s for recreational purposes or hunting.
The new app is intended to support changes made this year to The Trespass to Property Act, which requires members of the public to get permission from rural property owners before entering their land, provincial government officials said.
SARM and app founders are working on expanding the technology across rural areas in the province and it’s currently free to use.
SaskLander was developed through the provincial government’s Innovation Challenge program, where the local technology sector is engaged to identify and develop solutions for everyday challenges.
Day two of the event on Wednesday will be another busy one, with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his cabinet in attendance for a ‘bear pit’ session.
The session gives rural municipality heads a chance to air their grievances and concerns in regards to what can be done to help improve rural life.
— with files from Global News’ Thomas Piller
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