A plan for St. Albert’s long-term facility development will be delayed three months as city staff work to create a framework for the city’s future needs.
The plan, which was supposed to come before council by the second quarter of 2018 along with a report on short-term facility requirements, won’t surface until the end of the third quarter or beginning of the fourth quarter.
City staff originally asked to have until the end of 2018 to build the long-term plan but agreed to move up their time frame in order to provide their report before council enters budget deliberations for the 2019 cycle. The report on short-term requirements is still on track for the second quarter and will help with the development of the long-term plan.
Coun. Natalie Joly described the delay as “frustrating” and said it would make it difficult for council to make decisions in a timely manner.
“The sooner we make decisions, the better off we’re going to be as far as quality of living in St. Albert, the cost of projects and the cost of talking about this for years,” she said.
Delay will help consolidate plans
Aside from agreeing to the delay, councillors also agreed to scrap a plan to update the city’s New Facility Predictive Model as well as an internal review process to look at external agency requests for city support, such as capital funding or land donation.
Those two items will instead become part of the long-term facility framework.
The New Facility Predictive Model aims to predict future community needs. But Aleks Cieply, city engineer, said on Dec. 18 that the model is flawed because it puts too much emphasis on population and doesn’t look at demographics or the type of facilities available in the region.
“Just the population basis alone wouldn’t be enough to identify correctly whether or not the right elements are in place at this point,” he said.
As for the internal review process, a report to council stated it probably wouldn’t be suitable for all departments.
Cieply said elements of both items are intertwined with the long-term plan.
“Continued effort on three separate documents would just result in duplicated effort,” he said.
Coun. Sheena Hughes said she was glad to see the city wasn’t scrapping its New Facility Predictive Model entirely since it was based on data rather than lobbying.
“If we don’t have some kind of framework that has data and inputs that are not just lobbying and emotional, it’ll be much more challenging for us to be able to make decisions for what needs to be done now and what doesn’t,” she said.
Mayor Cathy Heron said the delay will help the city to build its framework correctly and agreed the New Facility Predictive Model has value.
“A great deal of work went into completing that … and there was some good data in there and I don’t want that ever lost, because it’s just another input into our 10-year capital plan that works,” she said.
Report will impact capital plan
Once the report is finished, the city will review its 10-year capital plan and councillors will decide whether to include or scrap projects.
The capital plan review is necessary because councillors have previously included some projects in the 10-year capital plan based on the New Facility Predictive Model.
City manager Kevin Scoble said the city wants to work off a “holistic” model for facility development instead of the limited model it currently uses, which doesn’t include input from stakeholders.
“We’re trying to come up with a methodology to put those all together, because right now they’re being done independently of each other,” he said.
Coun. Wes Brodhead said he believes the work is necessary.
“We’ve arrived at where we’re at today, I think, because we haven’t had a real deep dive and examined clearly what our means are in relation to the wants that we have before our community,” he said.