The City of Selkirk prides itself on taking a leadership role in many ways including asset management, climate change and environmental stewardship. The election of Mayor Larry Johannson last week as Chairperson of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) Cities Caucus shows Selkirk’s forward thinking attitude is recognized and appreciated by others in the province.
“I’m honoured and I thanked everyone for their confidence in me and electing me as the Chair of the Cities Caucus,” Johannson said.
“I may be the Chair, but we’re all going to work together and do what’s best for the province and for the citizens that elected us in each of our municipalities and cities.”
Johannson said the AMM is a powerful lobby group and by working together its members can affect positive change across Manitoba. An example of the strength to be had in numbers came at the annual convention in Winnipeg, Nov. 26-28, when 102 of the province’s 137 municipalities co-sponsored a resolution asking the province to continue a program that puts millions of dollars towards roads and bridges in Manitoba.
The province has announced it will discontinue the Manitoba Roads and Bridges Program and put the funds into the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program. While at first blush it would seem to just be shuffling of dollars from one program to another, AMM members contend the 50/50 Roads and Bridges Program was free from red tape and allowed municipalities to use gas tax revenues as their matching dollars. With the funds in their new location, the red tape returns and gas tax revenues aren’t applicable.
The cities of Selkirk and Thompson authored the resolution and then sought support from others. Johannson said receiving that kind of backing is unheard of and got the ear of many in the provincial government.
“When we had 102 municipalities co-sponsor us on our resolution to bring back the bridges and roads program, believe me that was a topic that was talked about by the ministers and talked about by the Premier, at our three-day convention. It shows what gets on the radar,” Johannson said.
“To put it in perspective, most resolutions that come to the table at AMM conventions are either sponsored by a municipality and that’s it, or they may have one or two sponsors that join them on it, so to have 102, we made history…never, ever in the history of AMM have they seen 102 municipalities come forward to co-sponsor a resolution. So I was excited about that. I take my hat off to everyone for doing that.”
The Mayor said other topics that were discussed as worthy of promotion were a share in cannabis revenue and the carbon tax.
He said the Cities Caucus usually meets a few times a year, but he’d like to see it become more active with perhaps quarterly or even monthly teleconferences on top of the in-person meetings.
The other members of the AMM Cities Caucus are Brandon, Dauphin, Flin Flon, Morden, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach, Thompson, Winkler and Winnipeg.
Selkirk Coun. Kelly Cook was also elected District Director of the Interlake Region at the AMM Convention.