Last week + Regular Council Meeting February 26, 2019
Fire and Ice Festival: This annual event hosted by the St. Albert Firefighters was fun! Thanks to all the residents who came out to this Family Day event, despite the chilly conditions!
Internal Audit Steering Committee Meeting: It was great to meet the auditors appointed to complete our audits and I’m confident that they will be able to provide valuable insights into what we’re doing well, and how we can improve our processes.
Discussion about Servus Place fee structure: After Council decided to hold off on making a decision about free memberships for users over 80 years and changing the fee structure to create a walking-track-only membership offer until we receive public feedback, I reached out to residents to hear their thoughts on the proposals. The response was excellent, and we may need to consider a greater conversation about how we offer and pay for recreation in St. Albert. I found comments to be very thoughtful in terms of wanting to encourage active living, appreciating the financial impacts of services, and recognizing the value of sharing costs. These motions are being send to our Youth, Seniors, and Community Services committees for comment - I look forward to hearing their feedback.
Special Council Meeting
We’re meeting a couple of hours earlier than normal for an in-camera Municipal Development Plan update.
2018 Year-End Surpluses - Update
We haven’t received the audited financial statements for 2018 yet, but preliminary estimates are that we expect “a municipal operating surplus of $1.7M, which is a 1.05% variance from the approved budget of $162M.” Admin is recommending that we transfer $123,000 of this into our Stabilization Reserve (a fund for “for nonrecurring, emergent, one-time expenditures or losses of revenue”) and the balance of about $1.6M going into our Capital Reserve (a fund “for internal financing of general municipal capital projects”). Capital projects that are expected in the next few years are a new fire hall in the growing north, added rec services (swimming and ice!), etc.
Styrofoam (Polystyrene) Recycling Pilot ($12,000)
As a result of ongoing discussions about recycling, Admin is recommending that we implement a 1-year pilot program for recycling polystyrene at the Mike Mitchell Recycling Depot. They are recommending that the $12,000 cost of this pilot be funded through the Stabilization Reserve that I mentioned in the surplus update above. We would contract the same company that Strathcona County uses for their polystyrene recycling program and the costs would be to hire this company, purchasing a sea can, and site signage and advertising to promote the program. It looks like the process used doesn’t impact air quality and the fire risk can be mitigated by the use of sea cans, so it might be a good option for residents looking to reduce the amount of waste they put in garbage bins.
Public Hearings - Erin Ridge North ASP & Element Drive North Redistricting
This is to decide whether to approve changes that would allow the developer at 130 Element Drive North to build townhouses at a higher density than the current development permit (57 units/35 dwellings per hectare compared with 70 units/43 dwellings per hectare). This change was submitted to the Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Board for review, which is required by provincial law, and there were no objections before the February 22 deadline as far as I know.
Location of GPFC Meetings
Once per month, Council meets for our Governance, Priorities, and Finance meeting in the Douglas Cardinal Boardroom rather than in Council chambers. These meetings are more informal that Council meetings and are intended to be more of a discussion compared with formal Council meetings. This space creates a bit more of a collaborative feel for those participating in the meetings - Council sits around the tables with Administration and any external presenters - but the set-up and sound is awkward for members of the public, access to technological support can be tricky because the room isn’t hard-wired like chambers and legislative officers have to manually record votes, and it’s time-consuming for staff to set up/take down.
A snapshot of what the boardroom set-up looks like, with Council on one side, Admin on the other, and room for the public behind Admin:
Annual HR Report
This motion is to formalize annual reporting to Council about Human Resources activities. I think the intent of this motion is to have a report that is a combination of something like Edmonton’s public Employee Engagement Report and Corporate Workforce Plan so that Council has a better understanding of how our decisions impact employees, but we’ll clarify the details and intent 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.