On Sept. 5, I attended the city council meeting to learn the wording of the ballot questions about funding for the branch library, an ice surface and an aquatic space for St. Albert. Presentations made by some members of the public proposed that estimated costs should be included, even though those numbers were ridiculously imprecise with an error factor of plus or minus 50 per cent. Others spoke in support of Mayor Nolan Crouse’s motion that the three ballot questions be presented without including inaccurate dollar figures.
After the presentations, Coun. Cam MacKay said “I keep hearing that council unanimously supported funding of the library. My recollection is that we allocated some money towards planning and that we allocated some time for it to come back as a borrowing bylaw. I keep hearing that. I’ve never seen motions of council unanimously agreeing to fund a library.”
Well, Mr. MacKay, the record shows that there were several occasions when your vote was included to make the council vote unanimous in support of funding the branch library. I attended the meeting on Nov. 26, 2015, when Coun. Tim Osborne asked his colleagues on council to recognize that the citizens of St Albert had been clear in their request for additional library space. He requested there be no more delays or excuses and concluded by saying “Let’s get a new Library built. The people have spoken, we need to listen to them.” Council then voted unanimously to allocate $100,000 in its 2016 budget towards the planning of the branch. It also voted on a preliminary amount of $2 million for the 2017 budget and another $15 million in 2018.
A year later, during budget deliberation on Nov. 29, 2016, the city council discussed the proposed capital budget for 2017. Coun. Tim Osborne, the council’s representative on the library board, put forward Motion OA-005: Community Library Branch in the amount of $17,492,159 be advanced and funded through debt servicing; and that Administration be directed to prepare, for Council consideration, the required borrowing bylaw(s) in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Government Act. You once again joined your city council colleagues to help this motion to be carried unanimously. Details were reported in the St. Albert Gazette on Dec. 3, 2016 under the heading Branch Library Approved in 2017 Budget.
Mr. MacKay, while your memory may be faulty about the occasions in which you supported the library branch, council minutes record your pro-branch votes. Unfortunately, in the past few months, you have thrown your support behind the anti-library group and its petition to stop the branch library.
It is disappointing to see how you are ignoring the research, public support and obvious need for more library space to side with a group backed by misinformation and emotion. Such indecision and reversal of position is not what St. Albert needs in a mayor. We require a person of integrity, courage and consistency who will recognize what is best for our city and will fight to ensure that St. Albert continues to be a wonderful place to live.
Bas Delaney, St. Albert