I have learned over the years that self-interest is a strong motivating factor for mobilizing people into action, and such is the case for the Braeside-centric Friends of the St. Albert River Valley. The 320 members should be commended for taking the initiative to form a group. However, the downside of this self-interest is often a narrow view, and consequently an ignorance of the complete picture of the issue at hand. Such is the case of the Friends of the St. Albert River Valley, and W.G. Whitney conveys this with several points in his letter (Gazette, Jan. 3).
Mr. Whitney points out that the developer hired biologists and engineers, although he forgot to mention planners. In fact, this is exactly what is required for the proponent of any modern development project, and represents a substantial monetary investment, and no guaranteed outcome, well in advance of any site work on the development itself.
The study, site analyses, planning and engineering that emerged from this work has provided the necessary evidence for the City of St Albert administration, and their staff of engineers and planners to make an informed decision, and determine that the project is appropriate. Based upon this evidence, a recommendation to proceed was accepted by the majority of St. Albert city council. Mr. Whitney does not appear to accept this process, and the outcome, and is falling back on the theoretical, but apparently “brilliant” analysis of Matthew Wheatley, PhD. The fundamental problem with Dr. Wheatley’s analysis is that it is arbitrary, and the only reality is apparently the observed location of a muskrat in Braeside several decades ago.
I am hopeful that the Friends of the St. Albert River Valley will now move beyond the self-interest of the Braeside development, and sustain a strong interest and participation by the current 320 members in representing the interests of the St. Albert River Valley, and not be a footnote to this project as the “NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) Motivated Braeside Friends of the St. Albert River Valley”.
Ken Johnson, St. Albert planner and engineer