My main goal for the city of St. Albert is to create and support a Financially Sustainable Future. This means ensuring that everyone will be able to afford and enjoy living in St. Albert the same way we have.
We can work toward a financially 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:
Borrowing $34 million to build a solar farm when not one other municipality in Canada has made money trying the same thing.
Spending $3.5 million to install a single lane traffic circle on a 4 lane road (by City Hall).
Purchasing $250,000 worth of statues for behind city hall.
Spending approximately $800,000 to recirculate pond water down two artificial creeks in Heritage Lakes.
Paying to change the entire parking structure every couple of years (parallel parking to angle parking and then back to parallel parking on Perron Street).
Instead of using the "Badger Lands" for a solar farm, these lands should be set aside in our future development plans for a recreation center and a new pool (for when we exceed a 100,000 residents). Please note that there is very little cost in setting aside this land which the city already owns to plan for the future. Putting plans in place would be a tremendous benefit to home owners, businesses, and developers looking to build around that area in the future. Please click here to read my views regarding a solar farm.
For capital projects, we have 2 priorities:
Recreation, Leisure and Community building initiatives. These initiatives can be addressed by professional fund raisers and other creative avenues to be explored.
The ongoing maintenance and support of the city infrastructure services such as roads, water works and other essential services. At this point in time we have exceptionally low interest rates and borrowing fees. Therefore it would be to our advantage to move as many of these essential projects forward where 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 traveling from one end of St. Albert to the other due to the excessive amount of time spent waiting at red lights..
In 2020/2021, we had Ray Gibbon Drive, Perron Street, St. Albert Trail, and Boudreau Road all under construction at the same time causing traffic congestion on all 4 river crossings in St. Albert.
St. Albert’s public transit inhibits citizens from accessing businesses, public facilities and schools in a timely fashion.
Continue to widen Ray Gibbon Drive up to 4 lanes starting at 137th Ave in Edmonton all the way to Villenueve Road. Financially, this will continue to be done in phases towards the North as funds are available (i.e.: grant money from provincial and federal levels of government).
We also need to work with Sturgeon County to create a road allowance that will allow Ray Gibbon Drive to eventually connect to the highway north of St. Albert. We need to finish what was started.
We should continue to work on the regional transportation initiative with the surrounding communities to provide cost savings and improved scheduling of our city buses..
Having city council request that the City Manager (when and where possible) only work on one road (at the same time) crossing the Sturgeon River to minimize delays to St. Albert's drivers. (Remember, we had 3 main North/South roads being worked on at the same time this summer).
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 Recreational Opportunities
Two of our recreational programs do not have sufficient capacity to meet the needs of St. Albert residents. Examples of insufficient capacity in St. Albert are:
a significant shortage of pool space for swimming lessons.
a shortage of ice surfaces for hockey and figure skating.
Many of our youth are looking for ways to socialize with friends; due to the lack of affordable facilities they end up on the streets looking for ways to entertain themselves, sometimes with mischief (not all teens, but some).
NOTE: Until Covid-19 is under control, several of the following recommendations are severely affected by the social distance restrictions currently mandated by the Province of Alberta.
We need to plan for the future... Instead of using the "Badger Lands" for a solar farm, these lands could be set aside in our future development plans for a recreation center, a new pool and yes, even a full branch library (for when we exceed a 100,000 residents). Please note that there is very little cost in setting aside this land which the city already owns, but there would be a tremendous benefit to businesses and developers looking to build around that area in the future.
We used to have a Youth Centre (located in the now demolished Grandin Mall). I think the city could partner with local churches or schools in St. Albert to offer Youth Drop-In activities on Friday or Saturday evenings.
We sometimes have a Youth Drop-In at Servus Place with a cost of $8.00 per youth aged 13 to 17. On the City of St. Albert's website, it is described as follows: "Drop-in youth night is a staffed program available for 13-17 year olds. Bring your friends out and play a variety of games and activities ranging from dodgeball to floor hockey to gameshows!". In the pursuit of building better communities, health, and entertainment, I'd like to reduce that fee down to $2.00 a youth. It costs a lot less to give youth something productive to do, then it does to increase policing on our streets.
Any increases to funding must be done in a financially responsible way by:
Analyzing areas where greater efficiencies can be realized.
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.