At City Hall

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St. Albert will not be pursuing provincial designation as an age-friendly community, despite ongoing efforts to make the city more accessible.

Council accepted administration’s May 15 recommendation that pursuing designation would require a lot of expense and yield little reward.

Community and social development manager Cindy de Bruijn told council the process to get provincial designation would need at least one full-time staff member to oversee the process: establishing a committee, conducting an age-friendly assessment of the community then developing and implementing an action plan.

The potential award for achieving designation, on top of marketing benefits, is $1,000 to spend on a plaque recognizing the city’s designation.

She said even without pursuing designation, the city already has several initiatives related to making the community age-friendly, including a seniors’ working group working to increase quality of life in the city, a universal access and barrier free plan in development services, and St. Albert Transit efforts in evaluating service levels to meet the needs of the aging population.

Council had asked administration to prepare the report following a citizen presentation to council in November 2016.

St. Albert will look to work with the Alberta Resource Recovery Centre to see what benefits the city could see from a project just outside the city’s borders.

The project involves building a prototype wastewater treatment centre on a 280-hectare site just northeast of St. Albert that would demonstrate how neighbourhoods could turn wastewater into heat, fertilizer, and water. This has the potential to reduce the costs associated with sewage infrastructure, which are significant.

The site is in Sturgeon County, but is within the area identified for potential annexation by the city of St. Albert. So while it could begin building as early as this summer in the county, it could become part of the city as part of the coming annexation negotiation.

Coun. Sheena Hughes, who brought forward the motion, pointed to three main potential benefits for St. Albert: decreasing the per-capita cost of replacing infrastructure, extending the life of existing infrastructure and decreasing water use without requiring substantial behavioural changes.

“Basically it changes the way the water, after it goes down your sink and drainpipe, is processed,” she said.

Administration will report back to council on the potential benefits and costs to the city by the third quarter of 2017.

The city will not embark on any further public consultations about establishing a policing committee.

Mayor Nolan Crouse had proposed embarking on a public consultation campaign for the policing committee bylaw prior to giving it third reading. He made no arguments in favour of the motion, but has said he favours more public engagement on the topic since the bylaw has only just recently come in front of council.

“The bylaw’s only a month old!” he said.

Coun. Sheena Hughes noted the recommended survey questions from administration are simple yes/no questions about whether people want a policing committee, not about what roles people would want a policing committee to undertake.

“If you wanted these questions asked, they should have been asked a long time ago, not at the tail end,” she said. “It looks quite frankly like a stalling tactic and an attempt to quash it.”

Al Bohachyk, a resident representing the St. Albert Citizens for a Policing Committee who has spoken to council several times on this issue, told council that with dozens of mentions in the Gazette and a dozen debates about the committee in council chambers, further consultation is not needed.

“I think the effort to delay this bylaw at this point is nothing short of embarrassing,” he said.

He said he would not reveal the names or numbers of committee members for fear of Crouse initiating civil litigation; Crouse clarified for the record he has never launched a civil action against a resident.

Council voted down the motion 5-2, with Crouse and Coun. Cathy Heron in support.

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