St. Albert Public Schools Read-In Week: I was invited by Neil M. Ross School to read to the grade-5 students!
Visual Arts Studio Association of St. Albert Opening Reception: I attended the opening reception of Cathy Bible’s From Within, an solo exhibition of abstract paintings at St. Albert’s Hemingway Centre. Check out the show all this month!
Council bus tour: Most of Council joined local developers on a tour of new Edmonton housing products that aren’t currently allowed in St. Albert. We looked at single-family houses with a “zero lot line” (built right on the property line), back-to-front duplexes (with one unit’s garage facing the street, and the other’s facing the lane to give the illusion of an estate home), and row-housing with options for a rooftop entertaining area. It was eye-opening to see these types of properties rather than hear descriptions of them.
Environmental Advisory Committee Board Appreciation: A few councillors were able to meet up with our EAC to give thanks for their service to the city. Watch the Gazette in the next few weeks - we’re recruiting volunteers for many of our boards this fall!
St. Albert Trail Barrier Wall Information Session: I attended the presentation and question-period for residents backing onto the barrier wall on St. Albert Trail that is scheduled to be replaced in 2019. This was an exceptionally well-attended session, and I was able to touch base with some of the residents who will be impacted by the project.
St. Albert Housing Society Memorandum of Agreement
In August, after two years of administrative work, Council was presented with a MOA that Administration had understood was agreeable to the SAHS. It turned out that this was not the case and SAHS requested several changes, including that Council “consider <a> property tax waiver - otherwise the Society requests an additional $50,000 over and above what the new Outside Agency Grant Program Policy will allow”. I also requested changes, including that “the SAHS provide the amount of municipal funding required to attain self-sufficiency over a particular time period, and/or plans on how to acquire the ~200 units they've advised are required” for self-sufficiency.
We then requested a review of the MOA from our Community Services Advisory Committee; This is the report of the CSAC recommendations based on SAHS requests and Council recommendations. The CSAC feedback is excellent and helped me decide to withdraw some of my requests and to advocate harder for others. Highlights of CSAC comments include:
“There is no debate on the need for affordable housing, however the current approach (relying on an outside agency) may be the wrong direction for the City, as there is a risk in real estate.”
“The CSAC generally agreed that the Society should have the ability to save for fixed asset purchases, particularly if the Society is expected to become self-sustainable.”
“The CSAC generally agreed that the Society should define their self-sufficiency target, however economic factors may impact those plans.”
“The CSAC did not see a reason for providing a tax waiver to the Society, and commented that should a tax exemption be considered, the City would also need to consider similar exemptions to other affordable housing units and/or projects.”
Transportation Safety Strategy
This is the presentation of “The Transportation Safety Plan and supplemental Implementation Plan <which> are the first formalized holistic traffic safety plans for the City of St Albert… The Plan documents a strategy to enhancing road safety for all road users through a multi-faceted approach of addressing the “5 E’s” of traffic safety - Engineering, Education, Engagement, Enforcement and Evaluation.”
Proposed project highlights include (starting at page 75 of the report):
Enforcement of distracted driving laws. (I saw the RCMP on bikes in intersections catching texting drivers last summer…)
Education initiatives to encourage the use of anti-distraction apps. (My phone has a setting that knows when I’m driving & won’t notify me of texts/calls - it’s great.)
Skid-resistant surfacing at intersections.
“Public Communication/website about traffic safety and projects” and “Conduct a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) Survey”, each for between $25,000 and $100,000.
Pilot Testing Autonomous Vehicles.
Pilot the use of Lower Speed Limits on Local Roads. (We’ve been talking about 40km/h residential streets for a long time… The following photo is the result of a “dotmocracy” exercise from a Complete Streets open house, which I found interesting.)
School and Playground zone review (and possibly combining them to increase effectiveness & clarity)
Expanded no parking zones around crosswalks. (The 5m buffer is often insufficient for pedestrian visibility & is not in line with accepted standards.)
Point-Pause-Proceed / Cyclist Dismount Sign Program ($?)
This is a report on the proposed signage for cyclists to remind them to obey laws regarding dismounting when travelling on crosswalks and the recommendation to “point-pause-proceed” as pedestrians. Proposed signs would only be placed in high-use or high-risk marked crosswalk areas, but cyclists would still be expected to obey laws in areas where signs are not placed. This is already funded through Neighbourhood Traffic Calming or Safe Journeys to School budgets, but the project cost is unclear.
The Complete Steets Guidelines are a a set of principles that “support St.Albert’s priority of creating a community designed to promote safety, connectivity, and attractiveness through a transportation network that accommodates all modes, all ages, and all abilities”. These guidelines would apply to capital improvements and new developments.
Of note - I was pleased to see that stakeholder engagement included groups like the St Albert Senior’s Association, Family Resource Centre, St Albert Primary Care Network, Homeland Housing (seniors’ housing), and Home Care North, School Boards, utility representatives (ATCO, Fortis, Telus), and developers.
Residential Parking Permit Program
Admin is proposing a policy for a residential permit parking process that specifically excludes areas near high-schools, except the existing one at Michener Place. Proposed eligible locations are residential areas within 400m of a major post-secondary learning institute, sports event facility (Servus Place, etc.), major medical institutions (Sturgeon Hospital), or public transit stations. This is the map of eligible locations provided by Admin at the July 3, 2018 meeting:
Annual Review of Financial Policies
This is mostly housekeeping items, with a few substantive changes regarding the detail provided to council regarding 10-year capital plans.
Private Fire Hydrant Maintenance Fee
“Currently the Utilities Department provides hydrant inspection, testing and maintenance at no cost to property owners… There are approximately 317 private hydrants within St. Albert and the majority are inspected and tested by Utilities… Utilities and Fire Services have recently collaborated to improve the private hydrant inspection, testing and maintenance service program, which includes informing owners of property having private hydrants of the requirements of the Alberta Fire Code (AFC) for them to inspect, test, and maintain their private fire hydrant… In Administration's view, the option of service from the City should continue, subject to a fee for service basis…”
The proposed fee is $105/hydrant and the requested administration budget for the program is $20,000. It looks like we expect revenue after expenses to be about $10,000.
This is a brief high-level overview of highlights from our meeting agenda, 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.