Council meeting: This was our longest one yet! We started at 2pm for an interview with a magazine, then went almost until 10:30.
Homeland Housing Board Meeting: I was in Morinville this month for the HH meeting; We're all looking forward to the imminent opening of the seniors' units in St. Albert next month!
Joint City/School Boards Annual Meeting: It was wonderful putting names to faces at this meeting with school trustees from all three school boards; I appreciated their candour about challenges being faced in the coming years and their commitment to serving our children.
Meeting with the St. Albert Family Resource Centre: I met with the Executive Director for a tour and an explanation of the challenges that they're facing over the next few years. This organization has been a wonderful addition to the community for as long as I can remember, and it was great to see their space and meet many of the staff. Check them out for family, preschool, pregnancy, and newborn resources.
Public Consultation Requirement for Planning & Development
Administration is presenting a draft Public Participation Policy, with a request for Council feedback by June 8, with the intent that a final policy be brought to Council for approval in July. This would allow us to combine the Public Participation and Public Consultation Requirement for Planning & Development Processes policies to eliminate redundancies and create alignment, and to separate Administrative policies from governance ones.
Capital Fundraising Campaigns
In 2016, Council directed Administration to develop a report "to facilitate discussion... on the expectations of stakeholders around the development of funds to support... new facilities which are being planned for development over the next few years." This agenda item looks like it might be the resulting report; The recommendation is "that Administration reintroduce the Capital Fundraising Campaign initiative at the discretion of the City Manager to incorporate into the appropriate initiative or policy revision." - but we don't have any information yet about what to expect in the presentation; the only background information I've been able to find is from 2016.
Council Workshops & Training Policy
As a new Council, we have attended many sessions outside of formal Council meetings to learn more about our responsibilities, the relationships we have regionally and with higher levels of government, and administrative responsibilities. As a result, many of us felt uneasy about attending meetings that were not announced to the public, or considered for public observers; We subsequently directed Administration to bring back a policy that would govern these sessions in a transparent matter.
"In the original draft Council Policy there were three types of Council Workshops envisioned:
- Administrative Briefing Workshops
- Training Workshops
- Council Feedback Workshops"
After legal review, both the Feedback and Briefing workshops were eliminated from the policy, with a recommendation that they be included in public meetings to ensure that "... all business conducted by Council... which advances the decision making of Council needs to provide the public with the opportunity to hold their municipal administration and Council accountable for the advice given and decisions made and provide for the opportunity for the public... to understand the decision making process by providing transparency of process and decisions made."
Regarding the Training workshops, whether we approve this policy or not:
- "there is no requirement to advertise or hold a Council Training Workshop in public,
- Council cannot make motions at a Council Training Workshop,
- there is no Chair appointed for the purpose of a Council Training Workshop, and· there are no formal rules of procedure that apply to a Council Training Workshop."
Supportive Housing (Group Homes): Land Use Bylaw Review
Administration is requesting a time extension to Q2 2019 for the Land Use Bylaw review requested in July , 2017 "... as it pertains to Supportive Housing (Group Homes) and bring forward amendments... by the end of Q2 2018 to better define, improve, categorize, and provide provisions for Supportive Housing... use types based on best practices, and provincial regulations."
Of note: Administration is recommending that no changes be made regarding separation distances between group homes (300m) because there has never been a challenge or complaint about this aspect of regulation.
Land Use Bylaw Amendment: Cannabis (1st Reading)
And here we go... The Public Hearing will be scheduled for June 25. This bylaw governs where retail stores and production/distribution facilities can operate.
Proposed bylaw highlights:
- 'Cannabis retail stores’ <would be> "a discretionary use in all land use districts where liquor stores are currently a permitted or discretionary use, thereby allowing for a development permit decision to be appealed", even where alcohol retail is permitted.
"... minimum prescribed separation distances between a cannabis retail store and: a hospital, a community hall facility, a City operated indoor recreation service facility, a City operated outdoor recreation service facility, a school, a licenced day care facility, a parcel designated as a municipal and school reserve or school reserve on the certificate of title."
- Admin has advised that we can't issue development permits prior to legalization.
- Daycares are the only private businesses that are explicitly not allowed within a certain distance of cannabis retail.
- Setbacks for "community hall" facilities were not included in the setback maps that Council and the public through World Cafes, so I'm unsure about the impact this has on where retail is allowed. The maps also showed both proposed allowed/discretionary uses based on liquor stores, but the proposed bylaw has cannabis retail as discretionary everywhere. I've requested updated maps.
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.