Estevan city council took part in the recent SUMA conference. During that time, they connected with other cities, towns and villages to share insights and address common challenges in their respective areas.    

A wide range of sessions were available for attendees to choose from. Councilor Shelly Veroba attended an educational session on strategic communication the day prior, which she found interesting and informative. 

Another notable session focused on the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA), providing insights and information into assessment processes and the factors influencing them. 

Veroba raised concerns about Estevan's four-year assessment cycle, suggesting a shift to a two-year cycle to better accommodate the city's fluctuating economic conditions. 

“Four years is a long time when you’re having to look at assessments from a boom-and-bust perspective,” said Veroba. “Because when the times are good, housing is high. When the times slow down, housing goes low and then what happens is people end up paying higher taxes based on their assessment.”  

She added that this length during assessment periods is not working for cities like Estevan.  

A new session that was added this year was speed networking, which was a highlight for Veroba. The sessions started with tables of two, then they merged to four people from different communities. 

“It’s just nice to be able to speak with other communities and hear they have some of the same issues going on in their community, but also some of them have a little more unique issues.”  

As for Estevan, she said that the Downtown Revitalization Project was a major topic of conversation. 

“Making sure people understand that basically a set of federal funding is where the money is coming from, and then the 1.5 million for infrastructure,” said Veroba. “So we discussed a lot about that. So being able to communicate with the community about how the project is being funded and how it’s not being done through taxation for the bulk of the project.”  

The transition from coal to alternative power sources was also discussed, including modular reactors, wind and solar energy. Some communities expressed concerns about the reliability of these alternatives for the province's energy needs.   

“We would like to see coal remain, but that’s going to be an uphill battle.”