Saskatoon

Meeting between Sask. ministers, mayors starts 'positive' conversation

While the grant cuts may ultimately have a big impact on cities and their residents this year, the mayors seemed hopeful that they will be part of the conversation as the government looks at future options.

Municipalities facing funding shortfall following provincial budget

Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association president Gordon Barnhart (centre) said while municipalities are willing to do their share, something needs to be done that's fair across all sectors. (CBC)

A meeting between provincial ministers and city mayors Wednesday appeared to be an optimistic beginning when it comes to discussions about funding.

"Anytime you're talking, it's positive," Regina Mayor Michael Fougere told reporters afterward.

Fougere, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark, Yorkton Mayor Bob Maloney and Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association president Gordon Barnhart had a 90-minute meeting with four ministers to discuss the end of $36 million in grants-in-lieu from SaskPower and SaskEnergy.

The end of the grants has more than 100 municipalities facing funding shortages in their current budgets.

"We all appreciate that the province is short of money in terms of the deficit and I think all municipalities are willing to do their share, but we need to have something that's open and accountable and fair across all sectors," Barnhart said.

Most parties coming out of the meeting agreed it started a good conversation.

Donna Harpauer, minister of government relations, said Wednesday's meeting gave the government a better understanding of the frustration cities are experiencing. (CBC)

Donna Harpauer, minister of government relations, said it gave the province a better idea of the frustrations the towns and cities are experiencing.

"We definitely saw the disproportionate impact [of the grants], depending on the size of the city. Some [cities] have reserves, some don't have reserves, some have a number of services they can look to, some don't have those options," Harpauer said.

While the grant cuts may ultimately have a big impact on cities and their residents this year, the mayors seemed hopeful they will be part of the conversation as the government looks at future options.

With files from CBC's Adam Hunter

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