The November 20th meeting was the first meeting where it felt like heated debate was on the table. I'm incredibly impressed with the passion, the eloquence, and the expertise of my council colleagues; I'm proud of the way we made decisions about a few controvertial topics this week:
Cat Bylaw Report
Did you know that Bylaw and Public Works have a microchip reader for identifying lost dogs and injured or deceased cats? I had no idea until last night. (Please microchip your pets.)
Originally, this was a motion to explore the possibility of contracting a shelter to take stray cats, but turned into a more comprehensive request regarding licensing, cats being allowed outside off-leash, in addition to the shelter proposal. Although I was the only council member to oppose the proposal, I respect the drive of my colleagues to invest in this issue.
Cat Survey (20k)
With only Councillor MacKay and I opposing a survey to look at the public's support and expectations for a bylaw, licensing, and investment in a shelter for cats, we decided to go forward with a statistically valid survey to help us make decisions about how to move forward. I look forward to seeing the results.
Public Hearing - Land Swap & Redistricting in Braeside
With an overflowing gallery, the 2017-2021 Council heard its first public hearing. We heard from the developer about the proposed condo project in Braeside, concerned residents opposing both the land swap and development, and local supporters of the project. Council had many questions for everyone present, and I was especially impressed with Councillors Brodhead (against the exchange, for redistricting) and Hughes (against) and Mayor Heron (for) during debate. The proposal to exchange public for private land was defeated 4-3, and first reading of the redistricting motion passed 5-2. I supported both motions, but I'm confident in the decision of council. The public hearing will reopen in December to consider second (and possibly third/final) reading of the amendment which would allow higher-density infill on these three lots along Sturgeon Rd. For anyone with new information about this proposal, please add your comments to the public record of this hearing.
After the meeting, members of council all chatted about the passion in the room, about our respect for the opinions of others, and about how impressed we were with both the public presentations to council and how prepared staff were for our questions. As we packed up, we laughed with the Gazette reporter who had a long night ahead of her to meet deadlines after a lengthy public hearing, we were amused at our regular camera man's enthusiasm about the night's long meeting, and a few of us talked about the delicious mystery dinner that we couldn't quite place. And walking to our cars, Councillor Hughes and I joked about the homemade cookies she often brings and shares at our meetings (she's ensuring we have extra padding to stay warm this winter?). I'm stoked about this group.
(This is a very brief high-level overview of our meeting, with my personal comments sprinkled in - In no way are my opinions representative of the official direction of council or the City of St. Albert. Please let me know of any typos or errors. For complete details about meetings, please refer to the video recording and meeting minutes.)