Saskatchewan

RM of McKillop's new electoral boundaries made official by Sask. government

On Thursday, the Saskatchewan government announced it had approved an application from the Rural Municipality of McKillop to redraw its electoral boundaries.

73 per cent of people in RM voted for new map to shift council majority from farmers to 'lake people'

On October 24, taxpayers in the RM of McKillop voted to redraw the 108 year old electoral boundaries, giving more power to people who own lakefront property.

New electoral boundaries have been drawn in an embattled Saskatchewan rural municipality.

The provincial government announced Thursday it approved an application to change the RM of McKillop's electoral boundaries after the community held a referendum this past fall. 

The RM's existing boundaries were drawn 108 years ago and gave farmers a majority of the representation on council, even though the majority of ratepayers have proprieties in resort communities along Last Mountain Lake . 

In October, 73 per cent voted in a referendum voting in favour of redrawing the electoral boundaries for the RM, expected to shift the control of council from the farmers to the cottagers, who do not necessarily live in the community year-round. 

The vote came after a council decision in the summer that doubled the taxes of some ratepayers, with cottagers being among the hardest hit.

'Shuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic'

"It is a poor decision,"RM reeve Howard Arndt said of the boundary re-drawing on Thursday. 

"In simple terms all [it's] done is shuffle the deck chairs on the RM Titanic and the RM will hit that iceberg probably sooner than later now."

Ardnt said the new electoral map has done nothing to address what he calls the "underlying cultural issues" facing two different groups of people: Farmers who are permanent residents and lakeside property owners who are there thoughout the year. 

He said there is a feeling among farmers that they could start to be dictated to—and possibly be subject to tax hikes—​by a council comprised of representatives from property owners who are not permanent residents. 

"The permanent resident has far more at stake," Ardnt said.

This isn't about lake against farmer: ratepayer group

June LeDrew, cottager owner and speaker for the Ratepayers' Association of the RM of McKillop, which supported the change, does not agree. 

"Anyone who owns property out there, whether they live in the RM or not, are entitled to vote," she said.

"This is not about whether you live there full-time or part-time, whether you're seasonal or permanent. Whether you're ag or lakeside, it has nothing to do with that. This has to do with good governance."

Both LeDrew and Arndt said what happens next will depend on who puts their name forward to run in the Feb. 27, 2019 election. 

LeDrew is hopeful a council shakeup will lead to quieter times in RM politics. 

The government's said the position of reeve will remain unaffected. Ardnt said he doesn't know if he wants to complete his term.

"It'll be all very dependent on what shakes out."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated the election is scheduled for Feb. 29, 2019. In fact, it is scheduled for Feb 27, 2019.
    Dec 13, 2018 4:31 PM CT

About the Author

Stephanie Taylor

Reporter, CBC Saskatchewan

Stephanie Taylor is a reporter based in Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC News in Regina, she covered municipal politics in her hometown of Winnipeg and in Halifax. Reach her at stephanie.taylor@cbc.ca

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