Visionary thinking needed in St. Albert with regard to river

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For those of us who wanted St. Albert city council to defeat the land swap and rezoning on Sturgeon Road, the Nov. 20 meeting gave us a reason to celebrate. The land swap was defeated. However, the first reading of the land use bylaw to rezone three lots from R1 to R3a was a sad counterpoint to that victory with a 5-2 vote in favour of the rezoning.

Many St. Albertans believe that we need to have a long-range vision and master plan for the enhancement, protection and preservation of the Sturgeon River Valley and parkway. At one point in the meeting, a councillor pointed out that our river valley is in no way comparable to other cities’ river valleys, such as Edmonton’s and Calgary’s, and this is true. It is smaller in scale, as is St. Albert in relation to bigger cities.  But, I was surprised when this councillor seemed to write it off as insignificant in terms of its role in the future planning for St. Albert. This attitude ignores the power and potential of rivers, such as ours, to become a central feature in the life and well-being of our city

St. Albert is fortunate to have a river running through it, a feature that separates St. Albert from other similar communities. The opportunities to create an amazing river valley that adds enormously to our city’s appeal and sustainability are too numerous to mention.

We hope city council rethinks their view on our river valley before it’s too late. Ad hoc development along the river is compromising our ability to ensure that future generations will have a river or river valley to enjoy. How about thinking about our river and river valley and the promise that is yet unrealized for them?  Even Edmonton’s river valley was once a rather lacklustre aspect of that city’s life, until some very smart politicians, community leaders and municipal partners got together and worked on a long-term vision and plan. Look at what they’ve achieved!  We’re small here in St. Albert, but we still need big thinkers and visionaries, especially on city council.

Marilyn Wangler

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