It seems like so many organizations around the province are thrilled to finally be able to meet together under a single roof. The Association of Manitoba Municipalities is no exception and it's currently enjoying its spring convention in an in-person environment, after the tiring two-year hiatus due to COVID.
President Kam Blight says they're currently in Brandon, and enjoying every moment of it.
He notes they had their first plenary session yesterday that featured discussion about fostering municipal Indigenous partnerships.
Blight adds today (Thursday, April 21) and Friday they're having another plenary session and municipal fireside chat with the honourable Eileen Clark, Minister of Municipal Relations, and himself as President of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.
"We're also hosting our first-ever Women in Municipal Government Breakfast," continues Blight. "We are pleased to see several ministers as well as the premier as panellists. So, that's going to be some phenomenal discussion and a great event. One of the best things about this is just seeing so many of our delegates and members from across the Province of Manitoba back together networking, enjoying each other's company, sharing some laughs, some insights and some ideas. The energy that is here is absolutely incredible."
He says it's been a long-overdue convention with close to 600 delegates back in the Brandon Keystone Centre.
"It certainly brings a smile on my face and it's very invigorating and energizing," adds Blight. "It makes us feel like we're definitely moving past this pandemic, moving forward, and hitting the ground with full-feet running. So, it's in a very exciting time."
Blight says his main speech took place this morning.
"I spoke about some municipal priorities and the ways that we can work together with the Province of Manitoba to move municipalities and the province forward," says Blight. "Some of those discussions were around public safety, funding, and constraints that municipalities are facing. We've had our operating basket funding frozen since 2016 -- that's seven years running -- despite massive inflationary increases and downloading other costs that are coming across municipalities. We're going to be working together and looking for ways to eliminate that funding freeze, and make more funding available to municipalities. That way we can continue to provide the essential services to our residents, and also improve our municipalities going forward."
He adds he hopes there are plenty of positives to take away that go with all the delegates that are there.
"This week, there's a lot of great breakout sessions, a lot of professional development sessions, and a lot of great speakers," notes Blight. "We're very blessed and fortunate to have minister Eileen Clark, Minister of Municipal Relations, join us. And also federal minister Gudie Hutchings, minister of Rural Economic Development, joined us yesterday to do a presentation."
Blight adds they're extremely pleased to have their distinguished guests including the Premier of Manitoba at the convention.