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Council eyes 2016 to-do list

Council has its work cut out for it in 2016.

After closing the books on the annual budget grind, the Gazette asked councillors and the mayor about their council-related goals and resolutions for the new year.

Council members responded with everything from moving forward work on the proposed sewer line known as Project 9, which multiple councillors mentioned, to capital budget clarity to implementing a youth council.

Read on to see what the mayor and councillors hope to accomplish in the coming year.

Mayor Nolan Crouse

The mayor is looking for clarity in 2016, both in the capital budget and municipal land needs.

He’s hoping that the city’s long-term capital plan can be clarified so that when it comes to big-ticket items, the operating impacts and capital costs are better understood.

Crouse also wants a better idea of where some of these projects might be located.

“The second thing we need to bring clarity to is land, and not land for developers but municipal land,” he said. “All those big ticket capital items, they all require land of some sort.”

Coun. Wes Brodhead

Brodhead had a positive laundry list of files and initiatives he wants to help move forward in 2016.

“(A) new year’s resolution would be to work collaboratively and diplomatically and graciously as a council to the furtherance of the good of St. Albert,” Brodhead said.

He wants Project 9, a planned sewer line, to move ahead as soon as possible, “only because it is so critical to the development of the west part of St. Albert.”

Housing, both seniors’ and affordable housing, were on his list. Also he is focused on regional transit.

He continues to have hopes for whistle cessation, noting “I might be a little more testy on this in the year to come,” as he’s been working on the issue since he was first elected in 2010.

Brodhead would also like to see an area structure plan finished for the Badger Lands, even if servicing the lands might be some time off.

Finally he is hoping to continue working co-operatively with Sturgeon County’s council, noting there is a willingness to work together.

Coun. Cathy Heron

Heron shared five council-related resolutions by email.

The first is to see the Project 9 sewer line move forward, noting she’d prefer to see it accelerated as much as possible.

She also wants to focus attention on “a more modern sustainable way of building and living,” including the in-progress green building policy, a start to the urban chicken pilot and said then she’ll focus on urban bees. She also plans to help develop the education program around the water conservation bylaw.

Her third item addresses shortfalls in the 10-year capital budget.

“I want to have a serious discussion with this council about biting the bullet and actually building these projects instead of continually postponing them,” she said, adding that means increasing the capital funding formula.

She’s looking forward to completing the work on the Capital Region Board’s growth plan task force, and to seeing the final proposed version of St. Albert’s smart city master plan in 2016.

Coun. Sheena Hughes

Hughes’ resolution for 2016 was to the point – to keep applying the knowledge she’s gained as best she can.

“I’ve had two years of on the job training of how to be an effective councillor and my resolution is just to apply this knowledge and skills that I’ve acquired to just best represent residents for the next year, and certainly the next two years that I’m on council,” she said.

Coun. Cam MacKay

Fresh off the budget, MacKay is looking forward to seeing the implementation of two items he spent a lot of time lobbying during 2016.

“It’s been a really good year for me,” he said, pointing out that proposals to fund an internal auditor and a municipal planning commission study were both passed as part of the budget debate.

As he looks ahead to 2016, he’s got a couple “kind of small” items on his radar.

He’s started surveying St. Albert lawyers about making the process of buying a house in the city easier, and plans to continue that informal survey in the new year.

MacKay is planning on meeting with councillors from Edmonton to see if the St. Albert Soccer Association’s hoped-for land acquisition in Edmonton is realistic.

Coun. Tim Osborne

Osborne is hoping to move forward the implementation of a St. Albert youth council in 2016.

In an email, he said he wants to move forward the plans for the new branch library and arena that were recently approved as part of the budget process.

Supporting the development of affordable and entry-level housing in the city is another item on his 2016 resolution list.

Coun. Bob Russell

Russell is setting his sights on “cutting fat out” in 2016.

He is still annoyed at the event stimulus grant going to help a private company put on a music festival.

“That’s my goal next year is to cut out those kinds of things,” Russell said.

He’s also hoping to get rid of the supplemental capital contribution fee on city utility bills. The fee made its debut in 2015 to try and help pay for future utility-related capital projects.

“That’s going to be one thing I’m going to keep on, I’m not going to let go of it,” Russell said.

He also is frustrated by delays on the planned sewer line – something he said the city should have been on top of “five years ago,” and plans to “watch this economic development department very carefully, cause I’m not very satisfied.”

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