Council will contemplate everything from utility grants to direct democracy in 2015


City councillors back to regular meetings Jan. 12 at new time

Everything from utility grants to going ahead with a multi-million-dollar sewer project will be on the agenda for St. Albert city council in the coming months.

Fresh off of completing the 2015 budget in mid-December, council will be back to regular meetings starting Jan. 12.

Meetings will now start an hour earlier at 2 p.m. Public hearings will stay scheduled for 5 p.m.

Usually a strategic planning and priorities meeting is one of the first things on a council’s agenda in the new year, and this year is no exception – council and staff have two days worth of meetings booked Jan. 15 and 16 to set council’s priorities.

There are a number of reports and drafts due back in the first few months of 2015.

Council’s provincial advocacy strategy should be on the agenda in January. This will guide how St. Albert’s city government lobbies the provincial government.

There should also be a report coming to council on assessing city facilities and assets and giving guidelines on how to decide when to add to that collection, as well as repair and maintain the current amenities.

The capital partnership program officially starts in 2015, which means some projects could start finding their way to council to be considered for a major influx of cash, or donations in-kind, to build new facilities like a performing arts centre or a gym.

A report that will interest anyone travelling St. Albert’s streets will be presented to council this winter after a wide-ranging public consultation process in 2014 took the Safe Journeys to School project into schools around the city. The report will look at how to make sure students arrive at their educational institutions safely.

Council sent a number of drafts out for consultation with stakeholders that should come back with that feedback incorporated this winter, like the downtown area parking report or the social development policy.

A draft of the proposed drainage bylaw is due back in the first quarter of 2015 as well.

Council will consider going ahead with the Phase 3 interceptor, a major sewer line extension that would help kick-start development in the west, when staff brings back a business proposal for the design stage by the end of February.

Council will also debate the feasibility of having a one-year, one-time utility grant to help ease the pain of increased utility bills for low or fixed-income households in the coming months.

Ongoing public consultation will be part of the year as well. The community sustainability committee is looking for feedback on its draft community vision.

The city has extended its online survey to get feedback to incorporate into the transportation master plan update until Jan. 22. The transportation master plan will consider the future needs to get people around St. Albert.

The future of Villeneuve Road could also be determined as part of the transportation master plan work this year. The plan was to eventually close Villeneuve Road once Fowler Way is available to take traffic between St. Albert Trail and Ray Gibbon Drive, but that plan is being reconsidered in light of concerns over potential impacts on emergency response times, traffic patterns and other concerns.

Other items to watch for in 2015 during council meetings include the contemplation of using direct democracy tools, taxing vacant lots at a higher rate and a report on if the city could have bylaws governing transparency of third-party involvement in municipal elections.


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