Last week + Regular Council Meeting May 21, 2019
Clean & Green River Fest: It was great seeing so many residents out helping with cleaning up along the river, learning about conservation, and enjoying great company!
Social Development Needs Assessment: Most of Council attended a workshop to go over our community assets (“organizations, people, partnerships, facilities, funding, policies, regulations, and collective experience”) and how they contribute to the wellbeing of our community.
Priority-based budgeting workshop: Most of Council attended a session on our updated priority-setting process and how Administration will be evaluating potential projects for recommendation to Council.
Police week BBQ: Thanks to Victim Services for their service and for hosting this community BBQ! Of note: Victims Services is still looking to fill volunteer positions, including board members; If you have a few hours/month to spare, please consider applying to volunteer for this incredible community asset.
Lieutenant Governor Distinguished Young Artists Legacy Program Recommendations
A sub-committee of the St. Albert Cultivates the Arts Society, including a City of St. Albert staff member, has recommended that Council award 4 of 9 applicants for this grant for “young aspiring artists… by providing funding assistance for training, education, or a career advancement opportunity”. This is equal to $1,900 of the $2,400 available for 2019 in the fund set aside for this purpose. I’m confident that all four recommended artists will be awarded this grant, but I’ll be asking about the role of various committees and societies in Arts granting - I’m not that familiar with this particular society, and their website only had board membership listed from 2016. Considering our previous conversations about transparency and accountability in arts funding, I want to make sure the process for awarding funding is fully transparent going forward.
PUBLIC ART ($240,000)
On May 3, Council delayed the decision about approving $240,000 for Public Art projects because the backgrounder did not include details about what was being requested. The backgrounder has a bit more information this week:
Annual withdrawal for 2019 and 2020 Festival and 2019 Emerging Artists ($62,000) - Admin has clarified that the first part of this request is for the Children’s Festival, but that funds have already been spent on the 2019 artwork - I’ll ask for more information about where the $30,000 will go since the public art piece was funded through festival funding already. It looks like we’ve also already contracted someone for the 2020 festival project, but it’s unclear. Both the 2019 and 2020 projects look great.
“Emerging Artists” refers to a call for public art we have for young amateur/early professional artists totalling $2,000 to make more temporary “butterfly” art. I’m unsure who decides on the selected artist, who came up with the “butterfly” theme, or how we advertise this opportunity.
Red Willow Park ($31,000) - This is to hire an artist to advise during the project to expand the Red Willow Trail system, in a similar way to how St. Albert Arts & Heritage used an artists to consult on the art gallery renovations. “The successful Artist will be responsible for consultation and artwork/s design for the preliminary and detailed design of Red Willow Park, Meadowview Area (Park) and/or the artwork/s design for inclusion of integrated or imbedded artwork in the Park.” I assume that our public art committee would be tasked with selecting the artist, but this is unclear.
Sign Reclamation Phase 1 ($31,000) - This is for “developing Project Plan for internal stakeholder input” about how to reclaim the old signs for parks/neighbourhoods, which seems absurd to me. “Phase 2 would include the actual creation and installation of the art.” I would be supportive of a call for proposals from artists able to reclaim these signs, but not more of this administrative red tape. I want public art funds to go towards public art and artists. Having people like me - non-artists - suggest to professionals what a good idea looks like would be like me directing an engineer about the materials to use in a bridge and the best route for a new road.
Northridge Gazebo ($100,000) - This is to fund public engagement and a physical piece of art for installation in the Northridge Gazebo. The backgrounder says it’s for “Developing Project Plan for internal stakeholder input” and $29,000 would be for consultation/pre-planning.
Canada 150 Mosaic Donation ($7000) - This is the cost to install the Canada 150 mural donated by Rotary inside Servus Place.
Diversity and Inclusion, Public Engagement Component ($7000) - This is for public engagement for artwork ($90,000) that was approved prior to my term on Council. Since we just completed a rigorous engagement regarding diversity & inclusion, I’m confused about why we’d spend another $7,000 when we have excellent data (from a “different” department) already and because we could easily use Outloud/P-Flag members on the jury that selects this piece.
2019 Tax Rate Bylaw
Now that everything has wrapped up for the 2018 year, we’ll be setting the 2019 tax rate based on the budget we approved in December. We have to make an educated guess about the Education Requisition because the provincial government hasn’t released its budget yet, so we’ll use the 2019 Provincial Equalized Assessment totals for St. Albert and the existing 2018 Provincial Uniform Education Tax Rates.
Servus Place & Fountain Park Free Memberships
This is to provide free memberships for residents who are 80+, regardless of financial need. An amending motion that expands this offer to residents who have a financial need is also being considered: “Servus Place and Fountain Park offer free full memberships to St. Albert residents who are 80 years and older, or are recipients of any of the following provincial benefits: AISH, the Alberta Seniors Benefit, Alberta Child Health Benefit, Alberta Adult Health Benefit, or Alberta Income Support.”
“The City currently has a subsidy program in place <whereby> residents who are receiving AISH benefits receive free access to Servus Place and Fountain Park on an on-going basis.
Through this program, new refugees to St. Albert are also eligible for a free annual membership to Servus Place for a period of one year. And residents whose annual household income falls at or below the LICO also receive either six-month free access to Servus Place/Fountain Park or can purchase an annual Servus Place membership at 60% off the regular rate. This includes all age groups.
Children under 18 whose household is eligible for the subsidy program are also provided the option to register in up to two Recreation or Culture classes up to a maximum value of $150 per year.”
206 AISH recipients received free annual Servus Place memberships.
Four residents with refugee status received a one-time free annual Servus Place membership.
296 households (884 residents excluding AISH recipients) participated in the Subsidy Program.
Admin is recommending that we consider the free 80+ memberships separately from the low-income ones.
This is a brief high-level overview of our meetings, 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.