City and county tackle recreation

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Committee will help city, county collaborate on future recreational needs

The City of St. Albert and Sturgeon County have set up a committee to address how they will handle recreational needs in the future.

That could mean examining how they currently work together or working on future projects. It could also mean building a framework to figure out how to handle regional needs.

St. Albert Coun. Ken MacKay said he expects the committee will paint broad strokes around those topics.

“I’m not really anticipating a great deal from this, other than to develop some processes and a structure going forward. I think that’s kind of the big first step,” he said.

“There’s going to be all sorts of potentials there, whether it’s for cost-sharing or savings or looking at even joint grant applications, some joint use opportunities, but I don’t see anything coming right out of that immediately.”

MacKay is one of St. Albert’s representatives on that committee, along with Coun. Natalie Joly and Coun. Ray Watkins. They’ll be joining Sturgeon County councillors Susan Evans and Patrick Tighe, as well as Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw, to figure out the details.

The technical term for what this committee wants to accomplish is called an intermunicipal collaboration framework or ICF. St. Albert also has to do one with Edmonton, while Sturgeon County has a total of 15.

“It is a tremendous amount of work to do,” Hnatiw confirmed in an email.

Hnatiw said once the ICF is complete, it will help address how municipalities share their services.

“(It will) ensure our municipalities work together to build strong communities and deliver (a) high level of service to our residents,” she wrote.

“The process does provide an opportunity to be pro-active and ensure things are done in a strategic manner.”

St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron said the ICFs are needed, thanks to a decision by the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board, which decided on June 14 not to include recreation in its servicing plan. The servicing plan, which the board developed to meet requirements under the revamped Municipal Government Act, does cover off areas such as transportation, and water and wastewater.

Heron said she voted against having recreation lumped into that servicing plan because she wanted more control over what happens.

She added she doesn’t want St. Albert to just check a box and say we’re happy with how things are currently. With Edmonton, for example, since residents from both cities use the other city’s recreational facilities, Heron wants a “deeper and a bit more complex conversation.”

“The reason the province did this was to ensure municipalities were co-operating,” she said. If two municipalities can’t see eye to eye within the next two years, they’ll take it to mediation and the province will step in to help resolve disputes.

“If recreation had been covered off in the servicing plan, and I wasn’t happy, I didn’t have an opportunity to then go to the province and say, ‘We’re not being treated fairly.’ This way, I do,” Heron said.

“I wanted to do one with Edmonton and one with Sturgeon County – I just felt that it would give me a little bit more influence.”

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April Hudson

April is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette