St. Albert and Sturgeon team up
City and county to deliver joint address and join forces on infrastructure, grants and Villeneuve
Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 06:00 am
Mayors Nolan Crouse and Tom Flynn will share a stage later this year as they deliver the first state of the sub-region address in at least a decade.
St. Albert and Sturgeon County council held their first official intermunicipal affairs committee meeting last week in Westlock with the help of a provincial government facilitator.
The meeting occurred as St. Albert’s council continues to debate whether or not to sign a memorandum of understanding with the county that outlines broad principles of co-operation. (Sturgeon County signed it earlier this year.)
This meeting was about bringing the two councils together to set priorities for the next few years, said St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse.
“We weren’t there with engineers to draw lines on maps,” he said. “We were there politically to ensure our administrations and our politicians were all working on the (same) top half-dozen things.”
The two councils discussed a variety of issues including servicing for the Sturgeon Valley region, the future of 127 Street, and the placement of park-and-rides, Crouse said.
“It was really quite an open conversation about what was important.”
County Coun. Susan Evans called the meeting a good first step.
“We have a lot of new councillors on both sides, so it was a good way to meet each other on a more personal basis,” she said.
The committee agreed to have both councils apply for a provincial regional collaboration grant to do a joint infrastructure review and to strike task forces to work on other issues.
Those task forces will work on a broad range of topics including a joint vision for Villeneuve Airport, joint land use planning and potential future boundary adjustments, Crouse said.
Both governments are already working on the issue of Villeneuve Road. One of St. Albert’s area structure plans proposes to close or realign the road to make way for a new development. That could have implications for local and ambulance traffic, Crouse said.
The area structure plan in question is expected to return to St. Albert council in the next two months, Crouse said.
One potential site for a future boundary adjustment would be Carrot Creek, Crouse suggested. The creek currently serves as part of the city’s western border with the county.
“The landowners on the county side (of the creek) have uncertainty,” he explained, with some saying they should become part of St. Albert.
“What we need to look at is whether or not the boundary needs to be adjusted.”
The committee also agreed to have Crouse and county Mayor Tom Flynn deliver a state of the sub-region address sometime this year.
While the Gazette was not able to confirm if this will be the first such joint address by these two governments in history, Crouse said he could not recall any similar joint address happening in the last decade.
This joint address is meant to explain the state of the region to local businesses and landowners, Crouse said.
“You’ve got to bring certainty to the region,” he said.
The two governments plan to hold at least three of these joint meetings each year, Evans said.
While there are no plans right now to revive the old intermunicipal development plan, Crouse said these meetings could lead to such an agreement.
“If we ever end up with an IDP, this is page one of it.”
The state of the sub-region address will likely occur in a few months, Crouse said.