On Monday, I was honoured to be invited Paul Kane for a very special class.
"About 55 Paul Kane students learned how to save lives this week with the help of the family of a man who died from a heart attack. The training was provided by thanks to a $10,000 donation from Kristin and Craig Toms of Sturgeon County." - St. Albert Gazette
Council had their annual meeting with Arts & Heritage, where we discussed their plans for this year and beyond. I often take my family through the museum and art gallery, so it was great meeting all the board members behind these venues.
Financial Reserves - Stabilization Fund Amendment
Last week, we received a report recommending that we increase the ceiling of our stabilization reserve from 2% to 3.5% of the operating budget, and this motion is to have us proceed with the recommendation. Some examples of what we've used the reserves for recently are: The Internal Auditor, the Utility Relief Grant Pilot program, and the Ariel Fire Truck. With heavy snowfall and ice/rain events, we may use it this year for snow removal. For comparison, the City of Airdrie has a 7% maximum, Calgary sits at 5%, the City of Grand Prairie (who knows a bit about emergency funding) has a minimum 10%, and the City of Edmonton has a minimum of 5% and maximum of 8.3%.
Capital Carry Forwards & Completed Projects
This is a series of motions to transfer "any unspent funding from closed capital projects... back to their respective funding source to fund future capital projects." We will also debate whether to change the council policy that states that the project lists are presented to Council rather than the Governance, Priorities, and Finance Committee.
"Through the course of the year, various projects and budgets have changed due to project timing, project delay, unforeseen circumstances, and lower than anticipated tendering results. As such, the net impact is an overall decrease of the project budgets of $1.2 million, and a request of $129.0 million is recommended to be carried forward to 2018.
A total of 66 projects are being recommended to be closed with a total budget of $26.0 million. Of the total budget, $24.5 million of actual expenditures was incurred resulting in a $1.3 million realized net savings. "
Time Extension Request - Medical Exceptions to Garbage Collection
Although the city is prepared for the changes that will give residents relief from costs associated with additional garbage disposal due to medical needs (like the plastic/paper used for changing catheters or feeding tubes), and that Council unanimously supported, there are delays due to the need for further consultation with our landfill provider. Admin has asked for a time extension to April 16, 2018.
I asked for this bylaw as a member of the public (thanks to Councillor Hughes for bringing it forward & all of Council for supporting her!), and I'm kicking myself for using the term "medical waste". This is normal garbage - plastic, paper, etc. - that is not optional for these families because of medical requirements:
Council Procedure Bylaw (3rd Reading)
This is an update to our council meeting procedures that have been discussed at length, both in council training sessions, and in chambers. In an effort to bring more transparency to our proceedings, and to have the ability to be more prepared for public presentations, these are some of the proposed changes:
- Speakers addressing topics outside of the agenda must register at least 5 days before a meeting. (Most people already do this, but the heads-up gives Admin a chance to direct them to a meeting where their subject might be topical, or for Council/Admin to be prepared for something new to us.)
- Presentation materials must be provided to Legislative Services at least 30 minutes before a meeting. (Again, most presenters are already doing this. This is helpful so that we can see the details of the presentation, and so copies can be available for the public.)
- That, when we're unable to read council motions in chambers within a week, that they're provided as a press release. (So residents and media know what's coming up. I'm fairly certain they'll be posted here.)
Art Gallery Barrier-Free Project
The St. Albert Art Gallery is undergoing renovations to create an accessible space for all residents. The good news: Arts & Heritage received a $623K grant from federal & provincial grants, which is about $156K more than we originally required. The bad news: Asbestos is an expensive nightmare, the age of the building is causing more building code excitement than anticipated, and the designs and temporary space rental are more costly than predicted. Because of these additional expenses, we're being asked to approve $300K from reserves to cover any contingency.
Motion - Advanced Metering Infrastructure Implementation
This is to debate whether the water replacement program should be put on hold and that we "develop a smart water meter implementation program that provides disclosure and informed consent of the new water meters and the RFID program."
Motion - Council Workshops & Training Sessions
This motion is to define our workshops, training sessions, and other non-Council meetings, including parameters about public/media notice of these meetings.
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.