At City Hall: Transit and budgeting methods

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Temporary relocation for St. Albert Centre transit

The city is gearing up for a second summer of transit disruption at St. Albert Centre.

Starting April 29, transit will be temporarily relocated to Muir Drive while contractors finish up work along Rivercrest Crescent on the Project 9 sanitary sewer line.

Work includes finishing tunnelling under St. Albert Trail to Rivercrest Crescent and finishing the open trench pipe installation from the trail along the crescent.

In the meantime, there will be one lane in and one lane out of St. Albert Centre and Rivercrest Crescent.

The relocation will last for approximately three months, and the city will be posting temporary bus signage with route numbers along Muir Drive. All buses will be redirected to bus stops along Muir Drive near St. Vital Avenue, and a map of the temporary stops and routes is available on the city’s website.

The intersection of Muir Drive and St. Vital Avenue will be turned into a four-way stop while the relocation is in place. Transit users parking at St. Albert Centre will need to cross St. Albert Trail as parking along Muir Drive will not be allowed.

Progress Hall renos complete

Progress Hall is back in operation now that the city has completed renovations to the space.

The hall, located at the Arden Theatre, has been undergoing construction over the past year to include upgraded technology, such as acoustic panels. The hall also now has a control panel governing new lighting, automated blinds and audio-visual systems. The space seats 80 people and can be used for various meetings, presentations, small trade shows, rehearsals or performances.

The renovations came after the federal government announced $234,500 in 2015 for the upgrades through the first phase of the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

Progress Hall was one of several St. Albert projects to receive funding from that phase. A total of $25,000 was also allocated for upgrades at Akinsdale and Kinex arenas.

Priority-based budgeting on the books

City council has officially put its stamp of approval on a new budgeting process that aims to give councillors and residents a more holistic view of what projects cost as well as track how important those projects are.

Since February, the council has been mulling over the idea of switching to priority-based budgeting after receiving presentations on the switch during their governance, priorities and finance committee meetings.

On April 16, they voted unanimously in favour of a motion from Coun. Sheena Hughes to implement priority-based budgeting by 2020 and fund up to $125,000 for software and setup costs.

Hughes said during the meeting she has found a level of reassurance from the fact that hundreds of communities in North America have successfully embraced priority-based budgeting.

She described the budgeting method as a “tool that council will have to have more responsible spending, and to make sure we are on track both each year and going forward.”

Coun. Jacquie Hansen and Coun. Ken MacKay both spoke in favour of the motion.

“I’m glad to know that we are going to be able to do actual cost-outs of each project as well, and I think we all need to see that at budget time,” said Hansen.

MacKay said he believes it’s important to make sure the work needed to lay the base for priority-based budgeting is done right.

“I’m very supportive of this,” he said.

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April Hudson

April Hudson joined the Gazette in 2017. She writes about city issues and municipal politics. She also writes general news and features.