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Chamber looks for improved rapport with city in 2014

By: Viola Pruss

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 06:00 am

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The president of the local Chamber of Commerce said she is looking forward to an exciting year for business in St. Albert, but also to continue building a better rapport with the city.

Lynda Moffat said the city’s approach to economic development has changed greatly in the last couple of years. One of the things that got lost in the shuffle was a strong working relationship between economic development and chamber, she said.

“Certainly I can tell you from the Chamber of Commerce point of view, we would love to have a better working relationship with the city and we are confident that that is on the way,” she said.

One of the issues the chamber hopes to be working on with the city this year is that of tourism attraction. In past months, the chamber repeatedly told city council that tourists continue to come to its new office on top of St. Albert Trail looking for information.

At this time, the city provides racks of tourism brochures at St. Albert Place and Servus Place instead of having any tourism information personnel. That was previously available at the chamber’s office building.

The chamber now wants to negotiate with the city and economic development about returning tourism services to their location and Moffat said she hopes to discuss the matter before council soon.

“We have prepared our proposal on what we think might work best for welcoming our visitors and (economic development) are apparently working on their proposal,” she said.

Moffat said she also joined the new economic development advisory board (EDAB) in September. The board consists of 12 members of the local business community and was created to provide the city and economic development team with feedback and advice on going forward with their planning.

While the board is taking its approach very seriously, she added that economic development and the business community now seem to be working in the same direction again.

“The whole structure of their department changed and it was really after (city manager Patrick Draper) came in that there were huge changes to go into that direction,” she said. “The one good thing is that we are all working in the same direction – following the same vision – and that is incredibly positive.”

Moffat said she feels good about new businesses moving into the city and the chamber does everything in its power to help these developments come to fruition.

This year, the chamber is looking to add more resources to its policy work, taking a broader approach to working with the provincial government on business policies, but also in helping the local business community.

That includes supporting the Perron District in downtown St. Albert, she said.

Moffat said the chamber is very supportive of the city’s plan to move forward with the downtown area redevelopment plan (DARP) and the proposed realignment of St. Anne Street, which will open up city-owned land for new development and construction.

“So hopefully it will be able to kick-start the downtown and be able to bring some new growth going down there,” she said.

Last year, Moffat said the city got settled into its plans of moving ahead with economic development. This year, it will need to find ways to get new developments started, especially on the employment lands, she said. While light industrial development is not something the city tackled in the past, she said other municipalities have been successful in finding ways of working with their “unwilling” landowners.

Moffat expects economic development in St. Albert will be a long-term project. But if the business community and the city work together they should see some good results this year, she said.

“How we are going to tackle the challenges this presents is going to take some rethinking or some exploration of what others are doing. Stuff we never really had to do because we’ve never really been in that game,” she said. “Perhaps the chamber can contribute to that success.”

The St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce will present its annual economic outlook on Jan. 15. Guest speaker will be Ian Glassford, chief financial officer with Servus Credit Union.

The business lunch will be held from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Sturgeon Valley Golf & Country Club. Tickets are $35 for members, $40 for non-members. For more information go to www.stalbertchamber.com.


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