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Mayor unveils vision for new downtown building

Nolan Crouse gives 'heads up' about a project charter he will be submitting in May

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014 04:31 pm

Mayor Nolan Crouse would like to see a new downtown building that houses the museum and library.
Mayor Nolan Crouse would like to see a new downtown building that houses the museum and library.
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

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The mayor will be proposing a new downtown building that could include museum and library space and extra parking on site.

“This is being driven by me and not by administration,” said mayor Nolan Crouse.

As council prepares to submit project charters in May for consideration in the 2015 budget process, Crouse decided on Monday to let the community and council know about a project he has in mind.

It would fill in the empty lot at 22 St. Thomas Street, which is across from the courthouse. That lot is owned by the city.

Crouse said the project could include library, museum and office space, parking and possibly art gallery space. He is still in the process of drafting the charter.

The move comes after council recently updated the terms of reference for a civic space needs committee.

“The committee that council approved be put in place some day needs more than a blank sheet to work from,” Crouse said.

Council and the community need a conversation about the growing space pressures, he said. He noted currently there are several space-needs related projects on the books in the budget’s “unfunded” column, including a civic building, community centre, library branch and museum expansion.

Council’s also been recently presented with the Arts and Heritage Foundation’s 10-year capital plan suggestions.

He has no details yet as to funding or costs – even suggesting funding sources could be cause for a plebiscite – and promised to bring a three-dimensional model to show the scope of the project.

If there is negative backlash, Crouse said he’s willing to accept it.

“I will take the political bullet,” he said.

In a follow-up interview, Crouse said the specific project has been percolating in his mind since the election, sparked by things like a questionnaire given to candidates over library space, Amacon’s recent Grandin mall redevelopment plans and some signals from council that they’re not necessarily opposed to addressing space demands.

He did note that a structure in that spot has been part of the Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan for about seven years.

The mayor is using part of the professional development funds available to him through council’s budget to engage a model builder so the project can be visualized.

Part of the reason for Monday’s announcement was so Crouse can start to get the numbers he needs, like what size of building footprint the lot could hold and potential cost estimates, for the development of the project charter.

“I need to be willing to step out of the comfort zone and lead,” he said of why he’s bringing forward the project. “I needed to stick my neck out.”


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