Last week + Regular Council Meeting February 19, 2019
Arts & Heritage Foundation Partners Appreciation Event
I was able to stop by the Musée Héritage Museum for an event for the partners of Culture in St. Albert. It was great to visit with everyone involved in the arts in St. Albert! (If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out the Pandemic exhibit at the museum.)
Subdivision Development Appeal Board (SDAB) Meeting
SDAB is the body that “hears appeals arising from the decisions of… administration and interpretation of the Municipal Development Plan and Land Use Bylaw. The Board's decisions may be appealed to the Court of Appeal of Alberta.” I don’t often attend these public meetings because Council has no authority over decisions and it’s not often that appeals are of particular interest - They’re mostly for building decks, sheds, and fences that don’t quite fit with the rules. Last week, there were a couple that were a bit unique… First, there was an appeal for a variance to build a garage suite, a build form that has only recently been permitted in St. Albert. It was great seeing neighbours out to support the project and I look forward to seeing the finished product! The second was about the development permit process, which was also interesting to see in person.
I attended the Creative Mornings Edmonton talk featuring Omar Yakub, an expert on corporate social responsibility and corporate sustainability. This is only the second time I’ve been able to attend these monthly events, but they’ve been an excellent way to consider different perspectives and connect with a diverse range of people in the region.
Operating budgets & completed projects
We came in about $314,000 under budget for projects completed in 2018, so Admin is recommending that we uncommit that amount so it can be made available for other projects. For projects that have not been completed, but were funded in previous years’ budget, Admin is recommending that those balances ($5.9M) be carried forward to the 2019 budget - Examples of these include repairs to the skatepark & track, the ammonia safety enhancements for arenas, ongoing annexation plans, etc.
Transit software ($217,000 over 5 years)
This is to approve a contract with a company that provides software that can be integrated with regional transit partners (Strathcona & Edmonton) to provide regional Smart Fare/Smart Bus systems. Our current software will no longer be supported by the developer as of the end of 2019.
Making changes to 10-year capital plan (Council motion)
If this motion passes, any capital projects that are added, removed, of changed in scope from the approved 10-year growth capital plan will have to be voted on by Council. This motion results from a few surprises in the last plan provided to Council that added projects that we’d never considered at the governance level.
Servus Place memberships - Walking track + free memberships
This is two motions, one to compel Servus to offer walking-track specific monthly/annual passes, and another to provide free memberships to seniors who are 80+ regardless of residency. As of now, memberships are not activity-specific, so people who only use the gym/pool/track/courts have to buy normal facility passes. We currently subsidize memberships for persons with a financial need/low income, offer free memberships to babies/toddlers under 2, and discounted rates for kids/students/60+. If these pass, rates for other users would probably have to increase (or taxes increased to cover the expense), and we would probably have to change the way we provide entrance to particular areas and how we enforce admission.
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.