The Association of Manitoba Municipalities 2022 Fall Convention wrapped up yesterday in Winnipeg. City of Portage la Prairie councillors were in attendance, including former AMM executive director Joe Masi.
Masi has a unique perspective on the event and shares what happened over the three days,
"I think it went excellent," says Masi. "I really enjoyed being there and renewing acquaintances, of course, from 20 years of being the executive director for the Association of Manitoba Municipalities. This time around, as an elected official for the City of Portage, I was really able to enjoy the conference and learn from it. I was able to attend a lot of the things that went on there. So, as an elected official, I felt, I really enjoyed the few days there. I think the Council did, as well."
He notes he was with those who are first-time councillors in Portage and was able to explain what was taking place, and especially introduce them to others at the convention.
"I think that all helps the city of Portage as we network with other municipalities and provincial ministers," says Masi.
Among the highlights that took place at the convention, Masi says a couple of things stood out.
"In the ministers forum, there was certainly a lot of talk about the increase for municipal operating monies that have been frozen since 2016," notes Masi. "There seems to be a commitment from the Minister that they are reviewing that for this next budget. I know this is a big issue for all municipalities on trying to meet their budget needs as we look at trying to lift the freeze for municipal operating budgets."
Masi says Councillor Ryan Espey raised the issue of crime and some of the challenges in dealing with crime safety in our communities.
"This was a big big issue in our campaign," adds Masi. "Certainly, the Minister of Justice indicated his support to try to deal with this issue as best as possible. It's going to take some federal legislative changes, as well. But they're really looking at how we do policing. We certainly are going to be following up on some of those issues."
He says Mayor Sharilyn Knox raised the issue about where the province was at in its efforts to attract more nurses and other positions in other professions where there are shortages.
"It was really good to get those issues on the table and into the government agenda to make sure that they are dealt with," says Masi.
Masi says Kam Blight was acclaimed as President of the AMM for another two years.
"Coming from the Portage area here from the RM of Portage, I think that was really good for for us in this area, as well," says Masi.
He notes he really enjoyed having worked with AMM and that experience will benefit him now.
"I was able to really connect and get to know my own council," notes Masi. "We have to work together, so I was able to spend a lot of time with our Council and get to know them better. That was really good because I felt in the past, when I worked with AMM, I was so busy running the conference that I hadn't had time to talk to a lot of elected officials. Now, as an elected councillor, I was able to really get to know my own council and talk to them about the issues and things that were happening at the convention. So, that was a great opportunity for all of us on Council to really bond together as a group."
Masi adds, on the one hand, he enjoyed renewing acquaintances and board members, staff and delegates with whom he worked, and on the other hand, he enjoyed the conference and he was able to take everything in as an elected official with his colleagues.
"In the long run, all these things will help us, as a council, deal with our issues in the city of Portage."