All three area municipalities have signed a deal allowing for flexibility in regional business.
Flin Flon Mayor Cal Huntley, Creighton Mayor Bruce Fidler, Denare Beach Mayor Carl Lentowicz and municipal officials Glenna Daschuk, Paula Muench and Mel Durette signed the deal Oct. 24 during a ceremony at Flin Flon City Hall. The deal, a memorandum of understanding for the communities’ Regional Economic Development Committee (REDC), was created and reached jointly.
“It’s a very important occasion for the three communities. Although we've been working together for a couple of years on this, what we're doing is formalizing an agreement between the three communities or working together on building a strong, sustainable future for our region,” said Creighton Mayor Bruce Fidler.
“I think with the formalization of this, it will hopefully be just the beginning of many things that we can do together.”
Under the new agreement, leaders of all three communities will appoint three representatives – the mayor, the chief administrative officer and a member of local council – to serve with the REDC in their monthly meetings. The group will meet once a month from until Dec. 31, 2022. The agreement may have to be renewed at that time, but the three signees said the goal was to continue the agreement indefinitely. Updates to the agreement will be possible over that time, said Huntley.
The communities will combine to form a regional strategic plan that may include consolidating local services or contributing funds from one municipality to another for services for economic opportunities.
None of the mayors went into specifics about which projects could see joint funding, but Huntley alluded to what the group may be looking at.
“I think the services might be local services that we’re providing right now. There’s a look at the synergies that are out there and if it makes sense for us to do it collectively,” Huntley said.
“We have had those discussions on a few different services and they are ongoing discussions. If we find there are feasible ways we can work together, we will definitely do it,” Fidler added.
A town hall meeting will be held in each of the three communities to discuss the plan once it is prepared, including providing copies of the plan to all attendees and giving at least a week’s prior notice.
Fidler was adamant that the relationship between the three communities as part of the REDC would not change as a result of the signing.
“We’ve been working together for a few years on this. This is just giving us a stronger voice to move forward,” Fidler said.
All three communities came together to form the REDC in 2016, formally announcing the creation of the group during a Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce meeting. Since then, the group has coordinated the creation of strategic plans for all three communities.
Fidler and Huntley said one of the advantages of putting the group’s plans in writing was to formalize procedures into the future, including when new mayors and councillors are elected.
“Municipal councils and mayors can change. We want to make sure that, when we’re done, that this is a structure that perpetuates forever and ever,” said Huntley.
“The only way we get stuff done is by doing it together. We’ve always said we’d get way more done together than we do going off on our own. It’s been good for all of us, some interesting things are taking place.”
“It makes it more professional and as we move forward and our approach differs, either for grants or whatever, it makes it look a lot more professional for us when we approach other people and companies, industry, other entities – they can see that we’re working together as one,” added Fidler.
Funding for the group will remain the same as it has in previous years. Forty per cent of the funds will come from the City of Flin Flon, with another 40 per cent coming from the Town of Creighton. The remaining 20 per cent will come from the Northern Village of Denare Beach. The deal, according to Huntley, will cost the Town of Creighton and City of Flin Flon about $40,000 each, with around $20,000 coming from Denare Beach.
“If something comes up and we need to increase the budget, we will look at it and take it to our respective councils and go from there,” Fidler said.
“If Denare Beach expands population-wise and doubles, we might ask Carl [Lentowicz] to pay a little more,” joked Huntley.