Too many questions remain about Erin Ridge ASP

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It appears to many citizens that city council wants to rush approval of the new Erin Ridge area structure plan (ASP) despite the fact that there are still many unknowns and the new offsite levy rates have yet to be approved. I strongly recommend that council postpone second and third reading of the Erin Ridge ASP until the public has had an opportunity to review the new levies at a public hearing.

This new ASP, which is part of the old Hunter Ridge project once put before Sturgeon County prior to annexation and opposed by St. Albert, could have serious implications for the existing taxpayers of St. Albert.

I am concerned and disturbed by some of the comments in the offsite levy document. It seems to me that the Urban Development Institute (UDI), which is the major lobby group for developers, has had more than the usual connection and consultation with administration regarding the structure of these levies. For example, I would like to see the ‘wish list’ prepared by UDI and presented to council so that I have the same information as council.

I’m also concerned about some councillor’s ramblings about a “more equitable sharing” of infrastructure costs by the city (meaning the taxpayers) to lighten the load of the developers.

I’m also concerned about that stated effort by council and administration to “remain competitive in the Capital region” with respect to off site levy charges to developers. Who says we have to be competitive? If other municipalities want to use taxpayers’ money to subsidize a development so be it, but we don’t have to be a copycat at the expense of we taxpayers who have seen our property taxes increase by several points over the past 10 years.

The city also seems to be struggling with what they consider the dilemma with respect to ‘front-end costs’ that could be charged to the developer of the first parcel in an annexed area. Here is the simple solution used by other municipalities. Calculate the cost of infrastructure to service the designated annexed area, charge the initial developer for the infrastructure and then require that subsequent developers repay the initial developer on a per acre or linear basis.

I also wonder why this Erin Ridge ASP does not include any financial analysis as required by some municipalities that would demonstrate that the development would not be a financial burden on existing taxpayers.

Wasn’t this something we heard council members assuring us about when the annexation was approved?

Bob Russell, St. Albert

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