St. Albert needs to support a Sustainable Future. This means that St. Albert will have the amenities and affordability to enable our children and grandchildren to enjoy St. Albert the same way we have.
We can work toward a sustainable future with the following goals:
1. Improving St. Albert’s Financial Situation
Issue: St. Albert Residents pay too much in property taxes and overall, St. Albert’s revenues are too low to pay for all of St. Albert Resident’s various priorities.
According to the 2017-2019 City Business Plan +2017 Proposed Budget, our city's current revenue base consists of:
66% of the operating revenue comes from property taxes. These property taxes can be further broken down into:
14% Non-Residential (i.e. Business & Industrial)
Sales, User Fees, and Government Grants supply 18% of the city's revenue.
Other revenue 16% (that is a pretty large percentage to be referred to as "other").
This means the citizens of St. Albert are St. Albert’s primary source of revenue! This is not sustainable unless we grow our non-residential revenue streams.
As a city, we need to attract new industry and businesses to help support our tax revenues and to provide more local employment opportunities.
City Council needs to give careful thought on how we manage our expenses. The new Council needs to avoid unnecessary spending on items like:
Spending $3.5 million to install a single lane traffic circle on a 4 lane road.
Purchasing $250,000 worth of statues for behind city hall.
Paying people to “artistically” paint sidewalks.
Paying to change the entire parking structure (parallel parking to angle parking and then back to parallel parking on Perron Street).
Changing the normal walk-lights on the corner of Perron Street and St. Anne Street to an “All cars must come to a halt to let pedestrians walk any direction they want” light.
For capital projects, we should take advantage of the current low interest rates and low labor costs to plan, build or upgrade our current infrastructure as soon as financially feasible.
2. Improving St. Albert’s Transportation
Long commute times for St. Albert residents working in Edmonton.
Traffic light timing on St. Albert trail discourages people from travelling from one end of St. Albert to the other due to the excessive amount of time spent waiting at red lights.
St. Albert’s public transit inhibits citizens from accessing businesses, public facilities and schools in a timely fashion.
Widen Ray Gibbon Drive up to 4 lanes starting at 137th Ave in Edmonton all the way to Villenueve Road. Financially, this will need to be done in phases with the first phase extending approximately 500 meters North of LeClair Way. Widening would proceed towards the North as funds are available (i.e.: grant money from provincial and federal levels of government).
We should continue to investigate the regional transportation initiative with the surrounding communities to provide cost savings and improved scheduling of our city buses.
Create more multi-use paths in new subdivisions to allow for safe travel between our residential, recreational, and business areas. A great example is our Red Willow Trail system running through the river valley.
Optimize the timing of traffic lights along major routes within St. Albert to reduce travel delays.
3. Improving St. Albert’s Education & Recreational Opportunities
Limited options for postsecondary and continuing education classes within St. Albert.
Library patrons can have a hard time accessing our existing St. Albert Public Library due to either the number of library users or due to special events around City Hall taking up parking.
Many of our Public Library and Recreational programs do not have sufficient capacity to meet the needs of St. Albert residents.
We should focus on attracting more “Continuing Education” courses to be taught right here in St. Albert by teaming up with our school boards to utilize existing classroom space wherever possible.
City Council should work with the postsecondary institutions to have more classes taught within St. Albert for courses where there is enough demand to reduce traffic between here and Edmonton.
We need to increase study and learning spaces for our library patrons by either leasing additional space (in the short term) or building additional facilities for our library patrons as a long term solution.
Please note that leasing costs less in the short term, while building a new site would be more feasible over the life time of the library facilities. The only way to determine which method is better, would be to have a cost analysis performed before making any final decision on the best way to proceed.
Any increases to library funding must be done in a financially responsible way by:
Analyzing areas where greater efficiencies can be realized. We need to discover if there are ways of using existing public facilities (i.e.: schools) to extend space for providing library run programs.
Hire a professional fund raiser to raise funds to reduce or eliminate tax dollars going into our hockey arenas, library, and pools. I know people who have done this for a living, raising millions of dollars in donations for organizations like STARS or Olds College for example. Professional fund raisers can bring in hundreds of times their annual wages by securing donations for worthwhile causes like libraries, swimming pools and additional ice surfaces from private citizens and businesses at a very low cost to our city.