We were all reeling at the news of the Humboldt tragedy. City flags are at half-mast, and books of condolences are available in the lobby at St. Albert Place.
The St. Albert Chamber of Commerce luncheon included a panel of experts speaking about the implications of recreational cannabis legalization, with presentations about public consultation and roles of the province and municipality, and from an HR professional speaking to workplace safety and legal considerations. Councillors Hughes, Hansen, McKay and I were in attendance.
We held two of the three public consultation Cannabis World Cafes, the first being for St. Albert randomly-selected residents, and the second for randomly-selected businesses. A few councillors attended. I found our residents and business owners to be very insightful.
I attended the Lacombe Park West Open House, where the city was presenting options for the parks in the area.
Fire Hall 1 Reconstruction ($12.4M)
Fire Hall 1 is the station in Grandin across from Lions Park on Sir Winston Churchill Ave. It was built in 1962 (hello, asbestos), three years before my grandparents moved to Grandin, and many years before any tall buildings had been built within the city.
"Fire Hall #1 is experiencing a significant impact to operations due to the insufficiency of space and is also lacking many of the requirements of a modern hardened building. These requirements include adequate bay size allowing for access and egress of fire apparatus, having a separately ventilated gear room to allow off-gassing of soiled bunker gear, as well as having appropriate barriers between the apparatus bay and the staff occupancy area. Additionally, many of the current building components, such as electrical, mechanical, HVAC, and plumbing, are well beyond the end of their serviceable lifecycle. Finally, as downtown St Albert modernizes & densifies, a Ladder truck will soon be required in the immediate area and this is currently not possible."
Administration is recommending that we replace the existing building with one at 20 Gate Ave (at the Grandin bus depot), which will become available for municipal use in the next couple years. If this proposal passes, expect public open houses in Q3 for information about design details. I have a stack of questions ready for this presentation.
National Smart Cities Challenge Application
We gave direction to Administration earlier in the term to move forward with an application for the federal Smart Cities Challenge; this is Admin's presentation of the prepared application.
"St. Albert will apply a Smart Mobility vision to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries, improve local travel efficiency by 20% and advance seamless regional travel, while serving as a national model for remote sensing and future travel mode readiness."
Should we be a successful finalist, we will be awarded a "$250,000 finalist prize... intended to cover most of the costs of developing the detailed final submission and project plan." Winners receive "a $10 million prize payment. This funding would have a significant impact on the City’s ability to advance its transformational project in a more holistic and expedited manner than may otherwise be possible."
Home Health Care Exemption to Garbage Collection ($6,000/year)
Last August, a loud brown-haired resident petitioned Council "to allow an extra or larger garbage cart free of charge for residents with health care issues that may generate garbage beyond the capacity of their existing subscription." Councillor Hughes was kind enough to table the request, and I was proud of a Council that voted unanimously in support of this change. This item is the proposed bylaw amendment based on Council's direction last year.
Business Licence Bylaw Amendment - Restricted Products
The wildest question & answer from the April 4, 2013 final reading of the bylaw to prevent businesses for selling more than three "restricted" products (click on 11. Bylaw 9/2012 & Bylaw 10/2012) was from then-Councillor Heron asking if businesses like "... Home Outfitters or Bed, Bath, Beyond that would sell a grinder, a scale, and any products or sheets made out of hemp..." would be prevented from operating in St. Albert. The answer from Administration was "kind of", and went on to explain that a business could not sell three or more "restricted" products, which could include coffee grinders, digital scales which are typically used for cooking, or products displaying a hemp leaf - like on many hemp oil and fibre products.
"On February 5th, 2018, Council voted unanimously... to remove “grinders,” “digital weigh scales” and products that “display a marijuana leaf” from the definition of “Restricted Products.” The motion also directed Administration to remove Section 14.1(1) - which regulates the amount of “restricted products” that can be sold at a single business location..."
On Monday, we'll vote on the proposed bylaw amendments.
Priority Based Budgeting
This is continuation of the discussions we've had about budgeting over the last several months. Proposed motion:
That the City initiate a shift towards priority based budgeting, commencing by the 2020 budget cycle, and fund up to $125,000 for the software and set up costs required, with 2019 costs funded through the Stabilization Reserve.
Auditor's Year End Communication
"This report summarizes the scope of the <external> audit, any findings to date and reviews any matters of importance. KPMG is responsible to express an opinion on the City’s consolidated financial statements..."
There isn't anything significant to report here, although I suspect we may ask for clarity about a few of the recommendations and administrative responses. For anyone who reads audit reports for fun, here's the link!
2017 Audited Consolidated Financial Statements
If you liked the audit report, you'll love this one! I have a few questions, but nothing terribly exciting.
Delivering Utility Services
That Administration investigate the feasibility of delivering utility services including water distribution, wastewater collection, new wastewater treatment opportunities, solid waste collections and life cycle management and associated ancillary operation opportunities, such as heat and electricity generation and distribution, through a City of St. Albert owned municipal utility corporation.
This will be a significant change for St. Albert if it passes. I look forward to questions and debate.
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.