Redistricting of Eldorado Park completed

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Council passes third reading of both required bylaws to make the change

The new francophone high school can now be placed anywhere on the Eldorado Park site.

Third and final readings of amendments to the Erin Ridge area structure plan and land use bylaw to redistrict the land were passed by council on Monday night.

A handful of Erin Ridge residents were in the public gallery and scheduled to speak. Mayor Nolan Crouse said since the public hearing was closed, they couldn’t speak to the proposed amendments. So many of the residents spoke to the general traffic problems of the area.

“When you’re making any of your final decisions on this, please consider the ramifications of these decisions,” said Helen Black. “Please put (St. Albert residents) first.”

Bylaw 15 redistricted two of the three parcels on Eldorado Park from park to public and private service. The third parcel had already been zoned with that designation.

Bylaw 14 amended the area structure plan to reflect those changes.

The changes will allow the school to be moved – likely to the west side of the park – and the site size to be increased by about a possible half an acre.

There wasn’t much debate from council on the bylaws but both Coun. Cam MacKay and Coun. Sheena Hughes took the opportunity to make passionate speeches against the move.

MacKay recapped the events over the past few years leading up to the vote, noting that previously he’d been told repeatedly that 2.99 acres would be enough.

“I have never felt bad when I have tried my best. In this case, we never tried at all,” MacKay said of council’s efforts on this subject.

He expressed a hope the site will be safe for students and that in future council shows leadership in changing the school site allocation process, as well as having a better land use planning process that will help avoid pitting groups of residents against each other.

Coun. Sheena Hughes reminded council of the survey put out by Erin Ridge residents during the election that asked if they would increase the school site and suggested if council decided otherwise today, it would be a “black mark” on approving councillors’ records.

“Not one person stated they would agree to increase that school size footprint,” Hughes said.

If council said no to the requested change, Hughes said, “we would simply be honouring our word.”

Hughes’ comments drew some applause from Erin Ridge residents in the gallery.

“You can decide to not recognize the betrayal of people who took you at your word … but know that regardless it will exist and it will remain,” she said. “Your personal vote today will be one of the most telling statements you make this term.”

Crouse said his representation of St. Albert goes beyond taxpayers and voters – it’s everybody, including children.

“For me the greater good is to approve this particular location and to approve this ASP amendment,” Crouse said.

Coun. Wes Brodhead, who moved the third reading of both bylaws, noted it’s incumbent on council to be open to new information, and in this case the new information is that the school would be better off on the west side of the park.

Both bylaws were passed by 5-2 votes, with MacKay and Hughes opposed.

The next step is for the development permit application from Alberta Infrastructure to be processed.

Director of planning and development Carol Bergum said they’re required to process the application within 40 days and issue a decision.

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