St. Albert councillors on board with Iveson
Edmonton mayor Don Iveson calls for regional collaboration
Saturday, Mar 08, 2014 06:00 am
St. Albert city councillors were receptive to the message of regional collaboration in Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson’s recent state of the city address.
On Wednesday, a contingent of council including the mayor and four councillors attended the luncheon where Iveson delivered his speech. In amongst points about LRT and poverty reduction, there was a call to the region to collaborate in a meaningful way on two fronts: economic development and regional infrastructure.
“I was really glad to see the CRB was part of his priorities,” said Coun. Cathy Heron. “There’s lots of ways we can collaborate regionally … he is standing behind the CRB as the mechanism to achieve that.”
Like Iveson, Heron suggested some improvements to co-operation and collaboration will come out of the regional growth plan that is being revised.
“It’s going to fall out of that because during that process … we’re going to have to come to a very clear understanding of the difference between urban and rural.”
Coun. Wes Brodhead noted Iveson implied that if the region doesn’t co-operate willingly, external pressures could force solutions.
“I don’t think he’s that far off the point,” Brodhead said.
Collaboration won’t be easy, Brodhead said, but suggested the strides St. Albert and Sturgeon County have made recently are indicative of the start of realizations that working together is better.
“I think there’s opportunities for us to work together,” he said.
Coun. Tim Osborne said while he’s new to capital region issues, what he’s seen so far is a willingness to work together.
“I think there’s really no argument about the extent to which our futures are linked,” Osborne said. “I think there’s always room for improvement.”
Transit is an area that has always stood out to Osborne as an area with regional potential.
Transit is a passion of Coun. Gilles Prefontaine too, who asked Iveson to provide some of the #yeg4LRT buttons that are part of Edmonton’s campaign for more LRT funding from higher levels of government.
Prefontaine said he appreciates Iveson’s approach that a regional approach is needed to grow.
“St. Albert is a beautiful community, we have great access for transportation and infrastructure towards the north, so we become a destination as part of the capital region. For us to work it alone, we’re never going to get the reach globally that a city like Edmonton will,” Prefontaine said.
Infrastructure is more than just roads to Prefontaine, but also includes the LRT and other public transit.
That’s something Iveson agreed with in a follow-up interview, saying infrastructure like LRT and heavy-haul roads are both important for the region.
“We’ve also been grateful to have regional support for our big push for LRT,” Iveson said.
Rather than municipalities promoting by themselves, Iveson sees an opportunity to work together and present a unified message about the advantages of investing in the region.
While he called for a renewed commitment to collaboration from regional mayors in his speech, he said Thursday he hadn’t had a chance to hear back from many of them.
“Certainly Nolan Crouse was receptive today when I saw him very briefly,” Iveson said.
On the infrastructure front, Iveson suggested upgrades should be considered on a regional basis, rather than by individual municipalities.
St. Albert has similar challenges to Edmonton in being mostly residential versus industrial, Iveson said.
“St. Albert has a lot of the same things to gain from working together that Edmonton might,” he said.
“If we’re not going to participate in them directly, i.e. if we’re not going to annex where the land is going, then eventually dollars are going to have to flow to where the workforce lives in order to make sure our communities are sustainable,” Iveson said.
“It’s hard to see what that’s going to look like right now, and I’m not making a demand of our neighbours at this point … we need to develop a model that’s about something more than playing for keeps and that goes both ways.
“That might involve sharing the upside of industrial development but there might be other solutions as well.”