Agenda highlights (Council):
Time Extension Request - Bylaw Banning Single Use Bags
Earlier in the year, we voted to have Admin provide a "report to Council detailing the environmental, economic, and lifestyle impact, benefits, and risks of enacting a bylaw banning disposable single-use bags, including potential recommendations for exemptions". Admin is recommending that our Environmental Advisory Committee provide feedback next month. I suspect many residents will want to provide feedback before Council considers recommendations later this year.
2018 AUMA Cannabis Resolution
Last week, we supported a motion to have Mayor Heron bring forward a resolution to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association that would have them request that the Alberta government create legislation that treats cannabis like alcohol. In debate last week, I expressed concern about smoking (cannabis) being allowed in places of work like licensed restaurants and cafes, like alcohol is allowed, but Mayor Heron assured us that the intent was not to reopen the possibility of smoking indoors. Interestingly, though, Admin has advised that the provincial legislation "allows some permissions for liquor consumption in public parks or picnic areas, if designated by the owner as permissible, and if the liquor is consumed with food." I don't understand how this works in practice, and I look forward to hearing clarification from our Admin.
Agenda highlights (Governance, Priorities, Finance Committee)
Master Rates Bylaw ($23,200 + $10,700)
The 2019 budget season has begun! This is the introduction of rates (development permits, business licence fees, recreational memberships, facility rentals, etc.) for next year, with amendments being proposed within the next few weeks, and debate happening in mid-October.
Some of the changes include adding "inclined solar panels" to development permits ($182), reducing a few of the gas permit fees ($111 --> $89) and slight increases to a stack of development permit fees. Permits for "Signs (With a Digital Display)" appear to be going from $400 to $940. Infill review is almost doubling to $300.
"The amendment of the fees as detailed in the attachments will generate $23,200 in Municipal Operating Revenue and $10,700 in Utility Operating Revenue which will be incorporated into the 2019 Proposed Municipal and Utility Operating Budgets."
Idle Free & Noise Bylaws
Admin is recommending that we remove the temperature threshold exemption, which would make the bylaw simpler. This is in line with existing bylaws in Banff, Hinton, Canmore and Jasper. "The bylaw is then effective year- round which reinforces and encourages consistent idle free behavior." They also recommend simplifying the bylaw by allowing 3 minutes of idling at any time rather than 3 minutes in a 30-minute period. The Environmental Advisory Committee, Municipal Enforcement, and Alberta Capital Airshed representatives were consulted on potential changes.
Admin is also recommending that we update the noise bylaw to match the Idle Free bylaw. Right now, the noise bylaw says idling is allowed for under 10 minutes, but the idle-fee bylaw limits it to 3 minutes.
Assessment Review Board (ARB) Bylaw ($4000)
Admin is proposing a stack of housekeeping amendments to the ARB bylaw to add clarity and increase separation from administrative Assessment functions. This is the board that deals with complaints about that property assessments that we use to determine taxation. Admin is also recommending that we add a $4000 budget to provide remuneration to members that is in line with "various regional and comparable-sized municipalities" and comparable provincial boards.
Subdivision & Development Appeals Board (SDAB) Bylaw ($5000)
Admin is proposing a stack of housekeeping amendments to the SDAB bylaw to add clarity and increase separation from administrative Planning functions. This is the board that rules on appeals regarding discretionary permits (like liquor stores in certain areas) and variances (like when a deck is built too close to a fence). Admin are also recommending a training budget because, as of April of this year, the province made training mandatory for members of SDAB boards. The budget would provide $200/day+mileage/parking/meals for members to attend training, in line with the ARB training remuneration. Considering the ARB amendments, it's interesting to note that there is no meeting attendance remuneration for this board and none proposed.
Council Code of Conduct Review
In August of 2017, Council directed Admin to bring a review to us after the code of conduct had been up and running for 6 months. "... There have been several inquiries regarding the process around complaints and investigations, but no formal complaints have been made... Going forward... the Integrity Commissioner will... deliver an annual report... outlining a summary of their activities over the year. This report will include an overview of... the number of complaints received and the outcome of any subsequent investigations."
Council Remuneration & Expense Policy ($0-$51,900)
The federal government is removing the 1/3 tax exemption for municipal elected officials as of 2019. Admin is recommending that we appoint a "Council Remuneration Review Committee for the specific purpose of making recommendations... regarding... potential adjustments to the base salaries for the Mayor and Councillors..." If this goes ahead, we'll vote on the terms of reference for the committee on September 24, the committee will be appointed in December, and we'd see recommendations in Q1 of 2019. "Should no action be taken... the impact to Council members will be a reduction in Net Pay in the amount of approximately $12,700 for the Mayor and $3,900 for Councillors." If we do nothing, there is no impact to the budget. If we top up to compensate for the change, there will be a increase of $51,900 to the 2019 budget.
Seniors' Advisory Committee (SAC) Bylaw ($2000 + $?)
We are considering adding a bylaw to add a committee of council that would consider municipal issues pertinent to seniors.
This committee would be in addition to the Seniors United Now (SUN) St. Albert chapter - Many residents met candidates in the 2017 election at the forum hosted by SUN. SUN is committed to "represent<ing> every Senior in Alberta as the leading advocate and resource on issues affecting their quality of life..." The new committee would also be in addition to the independent Seniors Advocating for Seniors advocacy group, which is active in promoting affordable housing and recreation for seniors. This group has met with most of Council; Mayor Heron and I (and possibly Counsellor Hughes) plan on meeting with this group next week. A third group that also advises the city is the St. Albert Seniors Working Group, which consists of members from Alberta Health, the RCMP, the St. Albert Seniors Association, SAIF and Victim Services, the Citadel and Youville Home, etc.
Adminsitration is recommending a $2000 annual budget for this proposed committee, in addition to the expense of a .5 FTE (grid-level 4). I'm not certain how much a 'grid-level-4' costs, but I'll ask on Monday.
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.