Adding insult to injury
Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 06:00 am
The above title aptly describes the nature of the most recent salvo fired by the provincial government under the name of Alberta Infrastructure, in what has morphed into The Battle of Eldorado Park. The application to amend the Erin Ridge Area Structure Plan (ASP) as per the Eldorado Park site is nothing short of a travesty as, if approved, it effectively eliminates any Park (P) designation at all in favor of Private and Public Service (PS). Not only does this render the site subject to total development but it in turn severely reduces the provision of park space in the entire subdivision which is in contravention of the city’s own policy. How blatant is the irony when St. Albert is boastfully given the label The Botanic City?
Rather than continue with a further assessment in my own words, I defer to the wisdom expressed in the following quotes which while not referring to the Eldorado Park dilemma, effectively describe aspects of the struggle which has ensued between the citizens of Erin Ridge and two levels of government, the latter of which have failed to act in good faith or a duly representative and transparent fashion.
Early on, “we” were not surprisingly described as being ‘NIMBYists’ (Not in My Backyard), a term conjured up in relatively recent times, which generally has very negative overtones. Countering this negativism is a quote, derived from a presentation by Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, which is pursuing an expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia;
“NIMBYism isn’t NIMBYism to a NIMBY, it’s about protection, it’s about preservation, it’s about protection of the land, it’s about protection of the community, it’s about protection of their yards and schools.” (Edmonton Journal, Saturday, November 30, 2013).
The only comment which I will add is to remind the citizens of St. Albert that the school in question with regards to Eldorado Park is not local but regional and although publicly supported, quasi-private, in that it has very restricted admission.
A second quote is from a “letter to the editor” by Zdenak Kutac of Calgary, Alberta under the title “Economic forecast impractical” contrasting the principles under which private industry and the public sector operate.
“Whereas a private company has one boss, any level of government constantly operates with two competing sides, the administration and the elected officials. They represent competing interests, quite often very conflicting on many levels.
The Council relies heavily on the performance of the administration, its expertise and knowledge. It bases its decisions on the advice it gets … It may not be popular, perhaps not even a right decision but that is the process given to municipal representatives.
Perhaps then, we could propose that a chief town administrator face the electorate every four years. That way we could re-establish at least some control over the interests and power of the town’s bureaucracy.” (Rocky Mountain Outlook, Thursday, January 02, 2014).
Suffice it to say that any person or group who has ever been engaged with St. Albert city council and administration, such as we the residents of Erin Ridge have over the course of the past half-year, will readily identify with what is described above.
Despite the increasingly overwhelming odds that are stacked against us, “we” shall not abandon our cause and if defeat shall befall us, we will hold our heads high in knowing that we tried our best, if not for ourselves then for those who will surely follow us in their endeavours to pursue issues which are of great importance and value to them.
Murray Lambert, St. Albert