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Fifth time the charm?

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  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 06:00 am

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Sturgeon County Mayor Tom Flynn seemed pleased last Friday when discussing the county’s municipal development plan, the star-crossed document that’s had more lives than your average house cat.

He said at an economic development breakfast that the MDP, basically a roadmap for the county’s growth, had impressed staff at the Capital Region Board, which could bode well for its ultimate approval. The CRB, as regular Gazette readers know, has seemed a hurdle to Sturgeon’s MDP.

Well, at about the time the economic development breakfast ended, the City of Edmonton was filing an appeal of Sturgeon County’s plan.

The big city, in essence, is concerned that urban-style development on its fringe must be fully co-ordinated with Edmonton and St. Albert and that long-range planning on the northwest side of St. Albert is a little bit too long-range and lacking detail.

The City of St. Albert, in its comments on the plan, said essentially the same thing, adding that by planning together, both municipalities can optimize the benefits of future development northwest of the city.

The MDP is probably the best version filed to date. Stantec Engineering, in a letter to CRB board chair Nolan Crouse dated Jan. 23 of this year, said, “It is our opinion that (the MDP) does generally comply with the objectives of the Capital Region Growth Plan.” CRB administration has also given its approval.

Edmonton’s comments weren’t a flat-out “no”, which is encouraging to those who want to see growth in Sturgeon County. It’s encouraging to see what appears to be better co-operation between the municipalities – particularly Sturgeon and St. Albert.

Premier’s communication

Premier Alison Redford again illustrated this week why she is at the bottom of popularity polls across the country. The controversy centres around Redford’s $45,000 trip to South Africa for the funeral of one of the most famous human beings who’s ever lived, Nelson Mandela.

Redford and an aide (why the aide had to go is another question entirely) took a provincial government plane to Ottawa at a cost of $15,000 to catch a flight with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to South Africa. She and her aide flew home on a commercial flight at a cost of $10,000 each to attend the swearing-in of her new cabinet. That’s $35,000 – just in airline flights – for two people.

Redford obviously seemed uncomfortable talking about the flap this week, apparently blaming staff in her office for the debacle and offering a lame apology.

“It certainly has come to my attention that there were some decisions made that week without the full and complete information that we could have had, which didn’t even follow our normal procedure in terms of trip planning. Mistakes were made. I accept responsibility for that and I apologize.”

Redford completely blew a chance to turn a bad situation into a political win. She could have and should have repaid the taxpayers up to the amount that it would have cost had she and her office booked the trip with some proper planning. Instead, she made another wrong decision and her popularity is taking a pounding – just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any lower.


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