I met with our Member of Parliament, Michael Cooper, to start the groundwork for any collaboration between governments that might come to play over the next term. We touched on the housing initiatives of the federal government, the tight deadlines for making decisions about retail cannabis in municipalities, and about why people choose to live in St. Albert.
I attended the St. Albert Food Bank and Community Village Christmas dinner. The leadership and commitment shown by this organization and its volunteers is inspiring.
Diversity & Inclusion Statement - Feedback required
On November 6, Council was presented with a proposed "Welcoming & Inclusive Community" declaration, with the intention being that it will be posted in public places to show our commitment to diversity & inclusivity. Council has been asked to provide feedback to admin about the statement by February 1.
I'm concerned with the wording because I'm not convinced that marginalized groups facing social barriers would identify with the statement - I would like people of all ages, nationalities, ability levels, gender expression, and sexual orientations to feel that this statement speaks to them.
Do you have feedback that I can include in my comments? Please leave comments here, or email email@example.com - thank you! I'm meeting with administration in January to discuss this at their request - I'll talk about all the resident feedback at that time.
Notice of Motion - Single-use bags, straws, and utensils
I've had multiple residents ask to have the debate regarding single-use bags reopened, and administration has also advised that changes have occurred since this was last considered in 2011, so I made the following notices of motion to get the discussion rolling:
That Admin, by the end of Q2 2018, provide a report to council detailing the environmental, economic, and lifestyle impact, benefits, and risks of enacting a bylaw banning disposable single-use bags, including potential recommendations for exemptions.
That Admin, by the end of Q2 2018, provide a report to council detailing the environmental, economic, and lifestyle impact, benefits, and risks of enacting a bylaw banning disposable single-use plastic straws and cutlery, including potential recommendations for exemptions.
Information Request Responses: Seniors Information Repository & Alzheimers support
Councillor Brodhead received a response to his IR about a central location for information for seniors. (Yes, the St. Albert Seniors directory c/o the St. Albert Seniors Association.) My two cents: Anyone looking for information or supports for themselves or aging parents will also likely find that the SAGE Seniors Association directory is the most comprehensive for the region, and the Central Lions Seniors Association has programming that is very popular with St. Albert seniors. (Up until the election, I worked at the North Edmonton Seniors Association heading an information resource program for seniors... so I have a bit of passion for the subject. 😉)
Councillor Hansen received a response to her IR about running an Alzheimers day program. (In 2010, the city decided that this was a provincial responsibility - but we'd supported similar programs prior to that time.)
Information Request: Vacant Land Policy
In Erin Ridge, residents have been living next to subdivided lots that have sat undeveloped for years for almost a decade. Not only are they an eyesore, but they also cause issues with street cleanliness, weeds, pests, and possibly the resale value of neighbouring properties. The current policy sets the tax rate for these residential properties that have been undeveloped for 7 or more years at 1.25 X the General Municipal Residential Tax Rate; This applies to the land portion of the assessment.
Mayor Heron has taken a lead on working on a solution with one particular owner of some of these lots, and managed to arrange a meeting with him, but information from the owner has been slow to come back to the city or affected residents since the meeting. To get a bit more background about the impact of the policy, and to consider next steps, I have asked the following questions of Administration:
-How many properties are subject to the Vacant Residential Lands Policy, and in which areas of the city are they located?
-What is the average increase to property taxes for these lots?
-How many of the properties that have been subject to this policy since its enactment been developed?
Information Request: Advertising in public buildings/spaces
I received a question about why we started to sell advertising space in public buildings like Servus Place, Fountain Park, and the Waterplay Park, and the impact that had on the prominence of public art in these spaces, so I asked admin about the history and where we have advertising - I don't know a lot about it. I also started a discussion on Facebook about this (I promise I don't want Council to get its fingers into administrative details about who is allowed advertising or what it looks like!!), with the hope of getting a feel for how residents feel about the costs/benefits of being in the advertising business. It was great to see how many people are happy with Administration's initiative to start this revenue stream and with their discretion about which ads have been permitted. The results of this IR, and the feedback of residents, will be something I want to consider when we receive the report on facility planning/sharing in the next few months.
This is a 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.