Last weeks & Regular Council Meeting July 8, 2019
This will be my last post until mid-August when Council meetings start up again - I still have quite a few events and meetings to attend during the “break”, so I’ll post a summer of updates next month!
Outloud/St. Albert Pride: I attended both Outloud meetings over the last couple of weeks, the first with the young adult group, and the second with the youth/teen group. I’m incredibly impressed with the volunteers who operate this support network and the participants who teach me something new every time I attend!
Homeland Housing: I was out in Morinville for our last board meeting of the season.
Environmental Advisory Committee: This was also our last EAC meeting until September and it may have been the highlight of my week! The committee was given tours of St. Albert’s air quality monitoring station, the Lacombe Park Pump Station, and a private homeowner gave us a tour of his net-zero St. Albert home.
At the air quality station, the provincial employee who monitors the station gave us an explanation of the work the province does, types of data collected, and how data is used.
The pump station, where a large proportion of St. Albert’s potable water is pumped out to homes and fire hydrants, was fascinating - I’m always incredibly impressed at the knowledge and expertise of out staff managing this type of critical infrastructure.
The private residential net-zero home was also eye-opening. I was impressed with the simple scaleable technology that helps reduce the heat/power needs of a home - From heat pumps that supply warm air and hot water, to efficiencies like air/water heat recovery systems, to passive solar optimization, and increased insulation.
Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) Task Force: This meeting in Morinville with representatives of Sturgeon County Council is looking at opportunities where our municipalities could collaborate. A provincially-required ICF framework document is required to be completed and submitted to the province by early next year.
Opening receptions at the St. Albert Art Gallery and VASA: I attended the openings of both these shows - We see some beautiful art at the facilities of city partners!
Regional Transit Services Commission (RTSC) Transition Team (time-specific at 5:30pm)
Over the last several years, St. Albert has been operating with capital-region municipalities to look at options to provide “efficient and affordable transit options to all citizens and ultimately improves the movement of people across the region” - This is an update on the progress of the transition team. It’s likely that we’ll move in-camera to discuss details of the progress and next steps.
Housing Affordability and Accessibility Project Update
This is a report on the extensive community consultation undertaken by Admin relating to housing and challenges to individuals seeking housing in St. Albert. Recurring themes that are apparent in the report include the challenges faced by those dealing with or fleeing domestic violence, interrelated issues with mental health, and interrelated issues with addiction. Administration is proposing that they return with recommendations in Q2 2020.
Museum Historic Sites ($33,204)
This motion is to approve using funds from the Museum Reserve to assist with the cost of a project to repaint the grain elevators.
Bylaw Amendments re: Conversion Therapy
Although my notice of motion for this item was to direct admin to gather community feedback about a potential bylaw that would ban “activities commonly known as “conversion therapy” (i.e., practices or techniques aimed at changing or attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity o rexpression)” from St. Albert, I have since advised Council that I will be proposing an alternate motion to direct Admin to prepare a bylaw for review.
A bit of background: “Conversion therapy is opposed by the Canadian Psychological Association…, the World Health Organization, Amnesty International, and others… <and> on March 19, 2019, the federal government <said> that “conversion therapies are immoral, painful and do not reflect the values of our government or those of Canadians”.” In addition, “new legislation… was introduced in the Senate on April 9, 2019, which proposes to change the Criminal Code of Canada to make it illegal to advertise conversion therapy to children and to criminalize receiving a financial or material benefit from the practice.”
Without a federal or provincial ban on these practices, Manitoba has enacted a ban, Nova Scotia has banned this for minors, and the City of Vancouver has enacted a ban. Edmonton expects a report later this summer that includes options available “to end the practice of conversion therapy in Edmonton”.
Admin has advised that we could pass a “Business Prohibition Bylaw” to amend the Business Licensing Bylaw and ban businesses providing this service or related advertising, but the risk is that we could face a legal challenge. They are recommending that, rather than enact a bylaw, we could put our support behind advocacy efforts encouraging provincial/federal governments to act.
This is a brief 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.