Natalie Joly is a Councillor for the City of St. Albert. Thank you, St. Albert, for your support.

Last week + Regular Council Meeting June 25, 2018

Last week

I left town and took two real days off without an agenda package, email, internet, or phone! I was sad to miss the Pride crosswalk painting and Pride BBQ (it's the first year I've missed!), but it was refreshing to unplug with my whitewater kayaking buddies.

IMG_20180618_142325.jpg

I started Agenda Committee this week, since I'll be deputy-mayor for the next couple of months. Your Council & admin works hard to schedule everything!

Agenda highlights

When I attended Agenda Committee last week, it was asked what we'd do if we're still going at midnight... I believe "serve more coffee" was suggested. This will be a long one.

Active Communities Alberta ($20M + 5.7M)

Active Communities Alberta (ACA) is a group that would like to build a recreation facility, including ice and gymnastics, that they would operate on a piece of land (184St & 137Ave) that is owned by Edmonton, and that would have to be serviced by St. Albert. Cost to service this land and improve transportation access is estimated at $5.7-$6.7 million, with no suggestions currently about who would pay for this. ACA would like a commitment of $20 million from St. Albert to assist with the build of this facility. (Of note: St. Albert Soccer Association (SASA) is also hoping to use this land for their facilities, and we have entered into an MOU with them and the City of Edmonton regarding this proposal.) On Monday, we'll vote on whether to enter into an MOU with ACA supporting their proposal, including a commitment of $20 million should they successfully secure $10 million in funding from both the provincial and federal governments. The vote also includes a provision that they work with SASA.

Facility development (soccer, food bank, ice, pool, library, gymnastics)

Over the last few months, Council created a framework to assess facility priorities. We narrowed down the criteria used to rank priorities and weighted each of them: public/stakeholder input, utilization, local & regional partnership opportunities and provision, economic impact, accessibility, benchmarking & trends, and historical support. The compilation of our rankings is as follows (My ratings in parentheses, with my top 5 being very closely ranked. Mine surprised me. I tried very hard to consider each weighting separately without predetermining the results... they are likely a bit different from the compiled list because of my higher emphasis on accessibility & new opportunities):

  1. Indoor Full-Size Non-Boarded Turf Field (1)

  2. Additional Indoor Ice (5)

  3. Additional Aquatic Facilities (2)

  4. Food Bank (3)

  5. Library Services (4)

  6. Gymnastics (6) 

Based on priority-setting with Council, Administration is recommending the following short/mid-term solutions:

  • That we "continue to advance the... MOU... with the St. Albert Soccer Association and the City of Edmonton..."
  • That we extend the term of the Community Village/Food Bank lease to 2034, and give them first right of refusal for future lease negotiations.
  • That we provide the Community Village/Food Bank with a grant for renovations.
  • That we look for a new space for policing/bylaw (so that the food bank has room to expand into the space where they're currently housed) & plan for costs of moving.
  • That we consider funding one sheet of outdoor ice at Servus ($2.8M) through an existing plan during the 2019 budget deliberations. (This seems off to me, but we'll have opportunities to ask questions.)
  • That we consider funding either a teach pool or a 4-lane 25m pool at Servus ($13M) during 2019 budget deliberations. (This was what we voted on in the plebiscite, but I don't think everyone knew that (or lane-pool supporters voted against it). My goal is to find a way to get at least a 25m/8-lane pool. With the YMCA showing some interest, we have options.)
  • That we consider funding a storefront library during the 2019 budget deliberations.

Electrical franchise fees

This is a motion to introduce electrical franchise fees, allowing the city to benefit from the private use of city land for electrical utility delivery. This is a common practice across the province. (The 10% that we're proposing is lower than most small/medium cities in Alberta.)

It's interesting to consider the number of buildings that are tax-exempt, therefore don't contribute to municipal infrastructure maintenece - If this motion passes, most residential homeowners will see an overall decrease in what they pay to the city because the costs will be shared to everyone using electricity, not just taxpayers. 

The admin recommendation is that we start fees at 5% in 2019, then increase them by 2.5% each year until we cap the fee at 10%. 

Cannabis

This is it... 

Business licence bylaw: We're proposing that businesses pay the same licence fee as smoking stores. Also, that admin has the authority to limit their hours to 10am-10pm (as opposed to AGLC's 10am-2am) if they're causing a nuisance/if they're unreasonably loud, or require they keep product in sealed containers if they're unreasonably stinky. 

Cannabis consumption bylaw: We're only considering smoking/vaping cannabis in the consumption bylaw at this time since retail sales of oils/edibles are not on the table yet, and we can't tell what's in your brownie anyway. The proposed rules are that you can smoke/vape on private residential property or if you're moving down a sidewalk (so groups can't loiter in one spot). Use would be banned in parks and within 5m of doorways, city facilities, rec facilities, etc. The city manager can create smoking/no smoking areas if needed (festivals, etc.). I suspect the sidewalks near the Children's Fest will be non-smoking zones. No medical exemptions proposed, which could be problematic for those requiring their medication when away from home.

Smoking bylaw: We're removing cannabis, but keeping everything else the same.

Land use bylaw: We're proposing to allow cannabis retail anywhere liquor stores are allowed, except: they have to be 100m away from hospitals or another cannabis retail store, 150m from schools and rec facilities and St. Albert Place, and 50m(?) from daycares. We are also considering removing medical production facilities from several land use districts and adding recreational production facilities to a couple of areas, which is odd since we haven't discussed this at Committee. This'll be long, with a stack of amendments already proposed. 

(As someone who relies on daycares and understands that space is limited, I'm nervous about the daycare setback. I'm not worried about anyone's 4yo sneaking in to buy cannabis (and smoking cannabis will be banned anywhere nearby), but I am concerned that leases will be given to cannabis retail over daycare because they're more lucrative. Or that, with a saturated cannabis market, potential daycares won't be able to find lease space where they're allowed. We'll see where this goes...) 

Campbell Road Park & Ride pricing structure

An FYI from the City Manager: "Administration intends to designate a small portion of the Campbell Road Park and Ride, approximately 4%, as monthly paid preferred parking."


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.

Last week + Regular Council Meeting July 3, 2018

Last week + GPFC Meeting June 18, 2018

0