This meeting will likely be long, and possibly heated. I won't list all the motions (there are a lot) that we will consider on Tuesday, but I'll point out the ones that will likely have debate.
Motion - Postpone St. Albert Housing Society (SAHS) Funding
"That the decision related to operating grant funding for the St. Albert Housing Society’s is deferred pending CSAB recommendations and Council direction after the MOU requested by council is completed, and that, should funding be awarded mid- year after the MOU is complete, the balance of the Outside Agency Operating Grants remain available in 2018 for funding of the SAHS."
This motion is mine, but it started with Councillor Brodhead's Information Request in 2015, then with Councillor Cam MacKay's 2015 motion to reduce the SAHS funding by 10k, which was passed by majority with Councillors Heron, Brodhead, Hughes, MacKay, and Russell voting in favour of the cut. Councillor Brodhead's 2015 IR asked:
"That Administration review city funding supporting affordable housing to determine the efficiency of funding multiple agencies with similar mandates within the community. Report back to Council by the end of Q1 2016."
Two of the specific recommendations from Admin based on this review of city funding supporting affordable housing include the following:
That Administration take steps to negotiate and bring forward for Council’s approval, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the St. Albert Housing Society and the City of St. Albert on the use of net revenue from Big Lake Pointe on the units owned as a result of the City’s investment in the project land, and that the terms of any such MOU be tied into future operational grant funding allocations.
This debate will be important, and will hopefully help us take the next steps to have a holistic approach to affordable housing, which considers all the local agencies providing support in addition to the supports provided by the provincial and federal governments. The SAHS MOU is expected in early Spring 2018.
Motion - Increase Senior Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Grant (25K)
When I read the report about the Utility Relief Grant this month, it became overwhelmingly clear that the majority of recipients of this grant are extremely low-income senior homeowners; These residents don't qualify for many of the housing assistance supports available to renters, and they have extremely limited housing options. This increase ($100 to $150/household) isn't nearly enough to address the issues that these seniors are facing due to the increased costs of living in their long-terms St. Albert homes, but I hope it helps a little bit while we work with the St. Albert Seniors Working Group, The Seniors Association, and our residents to find a more holistic solution to the pressures being faced by low-income seniors.
Motion - Unfund Wildland Interface Fire Fighting Vehicle Project ($193K + 12K/year)
This is to unfund the purchase of a wildland/grassland firefighting vehicle. The backgrounder provided quite a bit more information than the project charter (page 439 of the Proposed 2018-20 Business Plan + 2018 Budget).
Motion - Fund Aquatic Climbing Walls (40K)
This is to fund two small climbing walls, one for the deep end of the Leisure pool at Fountain Park near where the old Skywalker used to hang, and another for Grosvenor Pool.
Motion - Fund Employment Lands Area Structure Plan (ASP) ($446,700)
Motion - Fund Northridge 2 (Badger Lands) Area Structure Plans (ASP) ($200,300)
Motion - Fund Council Chambers Upgrades ($601K)
"This includes new millwork for the Council desk and catering service counter, new furniture for the Administrative seating area, and installation of guardrails along the ramp and gallery seating area."
Motion - Fund Municipal Area Network to Core Facilities ($650K)
This is to get the high-speed fibre-optic network (internet connectivity) project rolling to several large St. Albert facilities.
Motion - Unfund Public Participation Program ($81,400)
This is to unfund a proposed new staff position that would coordinate public participation.
Motion - Unfund Communication Survey (30K)
Both Mayor Heron and Councillor Hughes made similar motions to unfund this project. Anyone who has ever talked to me about surveys can guess how I'm likely to vote on this one.
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This is a very brief high-level overview of our meetings, 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. As always, I also encourage everyone who is able to tune in the the live-stream of the meeting (3pm here) or attend in-person (3rd floor of St. Albert Place, hang a right getting out of the elevator). You can also register to speak if you have information to present to council. Full agenda packages can be found on the stalbert.ca website.