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

Regular Council Meeting August 20, 2018 - SAHS, Handibus, cannabis consumption, PACE

Agenda highlights:

St. Albert Housing Society MOU

In September 2016, Council moved "that Administration... bring forward for Council's approval, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the St. Albert Housing Society and the City of St. Albert, on the use of net revenue from Big Lake Pointe on the units owned as a result of the City's investment in the project land, and that the terms of any such MOU be tied into future operational grant funding allocations."

"The City, in partnership with the province, has contributed $2,686,590 towards the Big Lake Pointe affordable housing development..." As far as I can tell, that doesn't include the annual operational grants that we've provided. We retain interest in the first 15 units and not the additional 12 units.

The issue for the last few years has been that the SAHS pitched to Council that they will move toward independence as an "affordable housing" landlord, but they have since advised that they won't be able to be independent in the foreseeable future. Granting operational funding is awkward since revenues from rent appear sufficient to operate, and funding appears to only be required for capital growth.

The proposed MOU states that the city will continue funding them through our Outside Agency Grant program, with no stated timelines for independence, and that they will be exempt from some of the rules imposed on other organizations that apply for funding because of their unique model.

Unrelated photo from the spring. St. Albert is pretty!

Unrelated photo from the spring. St. Albert is pretty!

Transit handibus ($21,670)

"To accommodate the new West Edmonton Mall <handibus> route, and one smaller unit to act as a back up / spare," an additional $21,000 is required to fund the project. "Transit currently uses a regular Minivan as the back up Handibus, but some service cannot be accommodated as the Minivan creates barriers to residents with wheelchairs and mobility issues." The total project cost would be almost $291,700 if Council approves the increase.

Cannabis consumption - prohibition (Council motion)

We will debate prohibiting all cannabis consumption in public places, including all modes of consumption for both medical and recreational users. If this passes, it would mean that consuming oils and edibles, as well as smoking/vaping, would be prohibited in public places and Bylaw would be responsible for enforcing infractions. We would have to define "public places" before a final bylaw is approved if this passes, and Admin recommends adding some type of medical exemption if we go this route. If this passes, Admin will bring back a smoking bylaw that prohibits all smoking/vaping in public places because we directed them to match cannabis smoking restrictions with other types of smoking. 

Cannabis consumption - medical exemption (Council motion)

We will debate exempting medical users from consumption bylaws. If passed, this would mean medical users would be able to take their medications in public places, and employers would have more flexibility in terms of their legal requirements to accommodate medical conditions. It's likely that this motion will be amended depending on the results of the prohibition debate. The intent is that medical cannabis users could use oils or edibles anywhere, and "<could> continue to smoke and vape cannabis where smoking and vaping of tobacco is permitted."  

Cannabis consumption bylaw

"The new Cannabis Consumption Bylaw prohibits smoking and vaping of cannabis throughout St. Albert, except... : inside a private living accommodation; on or within a private residential property (this includes backyards, front yards, porches, and balconies); in an area specifically reserved for smoking and vaping at outdoor public events; and while travelling on a sidewalk that is at least 5 metres away from: a(n) doorway, window, or air intake of a building; a patio; a park; and St. Albert Place, transit centers, recreational facilities (including all outdoor pools, spray parks, playgrounds, seasonal skating rinks, skate parks, sports fields, arenas, courts, and recreation centres), fire halls, recycle yards, police stations, and civic work places."

If this passes, smoking/vaping will be prohibited in parks (except Lois Hole Provincial Park), groups of smokers can't hang out in one spot to smoke because we require that they're moving while smoking. It also continues to allow the city manager to designate non-smoking areas, like we do for the Farmer's Market or Canada Day celebrations.

The requirements that smokers be actively moving could be problematic for employers accommodating employees with prescriptions or users who have mobility limitations. I'm not sure how a patient treating MS or nausea from chemo is going to manage walking down the sidewalk while they vape if they're not able to vape in their home or how someone using a walker or wheelchair will be able to vape while moving. I look forward to this discussion. 

Proposed AUMA Resolution - Cannabis Regulations

This motion is to have us "submit... a resolution to the <Alberta Urban Municipalities Association> calling on the province to align cannabis regulation to alcohol and not tobacco." 

PACEAlberta program (Council motion)

"An Act to Enable Clean Energy Improvements has passed to let municipalities establish a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program that will make it more affordable for Albertans to upgrade their properties without having to put money down. The cost of the upgrade will be recovered through their property taxes."  (Government of Alberta, 2018)

This motion is to submit an Expression of Interest to the program and showing interest in possibly opting in. Without knowing the details of the program (the Alberta government "will consult with municipalities, lenders, real estate associations and other stakeholders to develop a guiding regulation" this year), Admin is recommending that we hold back.

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 website.

Regular Council Meeting August 27, 2018 + Last Week

Deputy Mayor + Summer 2018 Council Activities