Last two weeks & Regular Council Meeting April 1, 2019
Last couple weeks highlights
Montreal Canadians Alumni Tour
I was honoured to drop the puck on behalf of Council for this game at Servus!
Homeland Housing Board meeting
I was out in Westlock for our regular meeting - I’m excited about the success of this provincially-supported housing board and hope to see them expanding their seniors’ housing in St. Albert into the affordable housing market.
Environmental Advisory Committee meeting
The EAC met for their regular meeting where the committee gave feedback about the Municipal Development Plan (please fill out the latest survey here!), went over the 2018 report on the environment, and made decisions about the Community Recognition Program nominees.
Utility Corporation & Waste-to-energy pilot & Alternative servicing
We’re considering starting our own municipally-owned utility corporation, similar to many across the province. This would include piloting a waste-to-energy program to help handle the waste that we’re unable to recycle while generating energy. We would also continue to explore alternative servicing. This motion includes a recommendation to bring forward a Municipal Utility Services Bylaw before the end of September 2019, and to hold a public hearing on the matter by the end of the yearI highly recommend reading the comprehensive backgrounder about the plan, impacts, and timelines.. The following presentation from our CEO is an explanation of what we’re considering :
Supportive Housing - Landuse Bylaw
This is a proposal for several changes to. the Land Use Bylaw, which governs what can be built where. This is first reading, with a public hearing scheduled for April 23.
Administration is recommending keeping a minimum 300m distance between group homes. I’m not sure why we have this restriction on homes, and it concerns me that a group home operator could be forced to appeal to the Subdivision Development Appeal Board (SDAB) should a proposed home be slightly too close to another. I’ve sat through an SDAB meeting dealing with group homes, and it was a heartbreaking experience.
We are also considering options for allowing “permanent supportive housing… <that> provide<s> for the needs of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, including those experiencing the complex and interconnected challenges associated with addiction or mental illness”. This kind of housing would “not include a detention or correction facility; group home; supportive housing; transitional residential service; or treatment centre”.
Riel Road & South Riel “Midtown” development
This development is near the Enjoy Centre and is different than anything we’ve built in St. Albert (and similar to my development when I lived in Christchurch, NZ), with smaller lots, private narrower streets than encourage driving slowly, and increased focus on walkability. One of the aspects of this style of development is the opportunity for mixed commercial-residential development; This will be like having Botanica built over Shops on Boudreau with building height being between 6 & 12 stories. When this new residential district is built out, it’s expected to have a population of 1,826.
This is first reading, with a public hearing scheduled for April 23.
This is to update the Policing Committee bylaw to match the committee responsibilities governed by the provincial Police Act. Interestingly, “the new Bylaw does not, and could not, resolve certain inconsistencies between relevant provincial and federal legislation (especially as concerns the Public Complaint Director position) but it does ensure that the Bylaw will stay consistent with the provincial statute (the Police Act) that authorizes a council to create a policing committee”.
Erin Ridge North Development (Public Hearing)
This is the 2nd/3rd reading of the bylaws to allow for changes to the Municipal Development Plan, Erin Ridge North Area Structure Plan, and Land Use Bylaw. A developer is requesting that we reduce the amount of commercial land in this area by changing the depth of the commercial strip along St. Albert Trail. One of the changes include unknow-as-of-now costs to the city to maintain temporary drainage ditches.
Advertisement and Promotion of Vaping Products
This is a motion to have the city advocate to the government of Canada “to ban the advertisement and promotion of vaping products to youth” and to advocate through the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association to “establish regulations complementary to any federal regulations that may be enacted to ban the advertisement and promotion of vaping products to youth”.
Front to Back Residential Combined Units
This is a motion to have front-to-back combined residential units (duplexes, multiplexes) as an allowed use within the Land Use Bylaw. Administration is not recommending this change. This is an example of a front-to back duplex in Edmonton, with one unit’s garage in the front and the second unit’s in the back off a lane.
Home Based Businesses
These motions are to allow home-based business to employ one person who does not live at the residence (Edmonton already allows two and Morinville allows one); That we allow a 20X30cm (max) exterior sign/plaque on the residence to advertise the business, and; That we reduce or waive the business licence fee when all employees are residents and there are no business-related visits to the home.
Administration is recommending against the first to allow an employee because “it will result in an increase in the intensity of the ‘use’, for example on-site parking needs, and increased production capabilities, which may generate more client visits and deliveries. An increase in intensity of a ‘use’ in the residential districts, often results in complaints, which in turn leads to enforcements”.
Regarding the fees for the small businesses with no client visits, we already have a “home office” designation that fits the definition, but Admin is recommending against reducing $140/year licence fees because:
“It would likely not align with the City’s Economic Development goals of expanding non-residential growth and would assist the expansion of home based business growth. There are many standing small businesses that operate on the threshold of this model that could easily move into this new home based category. This would increase the risk of reducing the existing non-residential inventory of standing businesses (bricks and mortar).”
“The creation of this home based expansion leaves room for more commercial vacancies as there are a large number of professional services that could move to a home based model.”
“Residential areas could get concentrations of businesses and the surrounding residents could have concerns. What limitations would be required in certain areas to prevent this and how would it be regulated?”
“One of Economic Development's consistent initiatives is to try and encourage businesses to follow the path of growth which would make them expand into commercial/industrial spaces”.
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.