Winners Announced at the 2009 Saskatchewan Municipal Awards

An affordable housing project, an urban native prairie park, a rural arts and culture

program, a short-line railway business, and a rejuvenated recreation center, were front

and center at the third annual Saskatchewan Municipal Awards today. The municipalities

that spearheaded these projects were announced as the winners of the 2009 Saskatchewan

Municipal Awards. The awards were presented at a luncheon sponsored by Saskatchewan

Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) and Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities

Association (SUMA). A total of 28 nominations were received for the five awards

categories.


The 2009 Winners of the Saskatchewan Municipal Awards are:


Municipal Service Excellence

Affordable Housing Business Plan

City of Saskatoon


Through its new Affordable Housing Business Plan, the City of Saskatoon is partnering

with all sectors in its community with the goal of providing 500 new affordable housing

units each year. The Plan comes in response to research that indicates the city need 5,700

new affordable units for its residents. Set in motion by the City Council in November

2007 and recently updated in January 2009, the Affordable Housing Business Plan

involves non-profit organizations, financial institutions, developers, community groups,

and homeowners in an initiative to create new housing through innovative approaches,

from establishing garden and garage suites, to offering tax abatements, researching

perceived construction barriers, and producing a housing handbook to help home seekers.

Last year, the plan, which is still in the development stage, helped to create 379 new

homes. In 2009, the City expects to reach its annual target of 500, with new units added

to existing affordable housing providers, as well as created through the many

partnerships.


Economic Development Leadership

Torch River Rail Project

Town of Nipawin, Town of Choiceland, Village of White Fox, and

RM of Torch River No. 488


Since it opened in April 2008, the Torch River Railway has hauled over 300 cars – over

twice its projected amount – and become the major supplier for cereal table oats in the

Chicago market. In that same time, the company, based in Nipawin and the Choiceland

region, has built a loading facility, purchased shops and offices, and trained six operating

engineers. The economic development success story started in December 2007 when the

Towns of Nipawin and Choiceland, the Village of White Fox, and the R.M. of Torch

River No. 488 joined with 42 other stakeholders to purchase the Nipawin-Choiceland rail

line that was to be dismantled according to the Canadian Transportation Act. The

strategic rail line is one of few north of the Saskatchewan River and forms the northern

part of the vital north-south link to North American markets. Today, Torch River Rail

Inc. serves the area’s agricultural producers, profiting them $1 million in revenue and

savings in its first year of operation, and is a promising transport link for the region’s

forestry and mining industries.


Regional Leadership and Partnerships

Recreation Centre Regional Partnership Practice

RM of Buckland No. 491, Little Red River Band, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation


This winter, 6,900 school children in northern Saskatchewan were able to skate in a

newly refurbished indoor rink thanks to the Northern Regional Recreation Centre Inc. A

volunteer board formed through the area’s first-ever partnership of Aboriginal and non-

Aboriginal peoples, the Northern Regional Recreation Centre seeks to enhance the

region’s social, sport and recreation opportunities. The Centre’s first project was to

provide the residents of R.M. of Buckland No. 491, Little Red River Band, and the Peter

Ballantyne Cree Nation with a place to exercise and develop as athletes. In 2007, the

Centre set about renovating a closed recreation building in the R.M. of Buckland No.

491, with support from the Canada-Saskatchewan Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund,

Farm Credit Canada Corporation, True Sport Foundation of Canada, and Northern Lights

Community Development Corporation. The partnership was a success. Today, the facility

provides shoulder-season ice that is not available elsewhere in the region, free skating

during after school hours and on Sunday afternoons, free ice-time for schools, and will

hold a family hockey night in the fall.


Community Development Leadership

Centre 48 Arts and Education Centre

Village of Montmartre, RM of Montmartre No. 126


Arts, culture, music, and fitness are alive and well in the Village of Montmartre and

surrounding area through the Centre 48 Arts and Education Centre. Opened in 2002 by

the R.M. of Montmartre No. 126 and the Village of Montmartre to boost school use and

the community’s population, Centre 48 has educated over 1,800 students from 20

communities, generated approximately $180,000 largely through fundraisers, employed

180 instructors, and trained new instructors in several disciplines. Each year, the centre

provides educational events and 30-40 evening classes for all ages, including yoga,

cooking, music lessons, quilting, sweat lodge healing, babysitting, and more. Classes are

held at Montmartre School, with some offered in surrounding towns. Run by community

volunteers, a part-time coordinator and a playschool teacher, the Centre is first of its kind

in Saskatchewan, and possibly in Canada because of the diversity of its courses.


Environmental Stewardship

McKell Wascana Conservation Park

City of Regina


An urban native prairie park, the McKell Wascana Conservation Park is providing a place

for Regina residents to experience and learn about the ecology of the Regina plains and

wetlands. Designated as an environmental reserve, the park began to be developed in

2005 when the McKell family and Ducks Unlimited Canada approached the City about

creating a conservation space as a legacy on behalf of Robert McKell. In 2007, the work

began by seeding the park with native grasses, an environmentally sustainable choice that

requires little maintenance, can withstand erosion, and is non-invasive. Over this past

year, a park sign, natural trail, amphitheatre and dock were completed in the park,

offering educational opportunities for schools and families. The park will continue to

grow in the coming years, with the addition of more trails, interpretive signs, park

benches, and the introduction of native shrubs and flowers.