Categories: Our View

Polarizing issue

It is not healthy for a community to be polarized over one issue. It is shortsighted to draw lines about who to vote for before all the issues are on the table.

Currently in St. Albert, a slate of candidates is being compiled based on whether the candidates would vote a particular way on one issue – a branch library. The information card claims to outline whether council candidates ‘will abide by the results of the branch library plebiscite,’ though it doesn’t note there are two other issues on the plebiscite itself: a new ice rink and an aquatics facility.

It is cause for concern that an information card being circulated contains incorrect, misleading and incomplete information. Some candidates listed on the card say they were not consulted before their names were included. The card lists nine candidates who ‘will abide by a branch library plebiscite’ and eight whose ‘intentions on the plebiscite is unknown.’ There is even disagreement about which individuals and candidates were involved in creating the card.

It is also odd that the card is being circulated before all the candidates have declared for office. Candidates have until Sept. 18 Nomination Day to throw their hat in the ring and declare where they stand on this and many other issues. At least one candidate on the card has since dropped out of the race and two people listed aren’t official candidates yet, but the information card is being circulated now.

The branch library is just one of the issues in this race, one that will likely be dealt with early by the new council.  But what about the next four years? We need councillors who can serve the best interests of St. Albert on a wide spectrum of issues, not just on a branch library.

The city plebiscite during the Oct. 16 municipal election is intended to gauge public opinion for building a branch library, an ice rink and an aquatics facility. The wording of the city plebiscite is still being worked out, and a notice of motion by Mayor Nolan Crouse with regard to further changing the question will come to city council on Tuesday for further discussion.

However, the information the city gleans from the plebiscite results will guide city council on only those projects.

Devoting so much attention to one issue is squeezing out opportunities to explore other important issues that face St. Albert. We need to hear from candidates about what they believe those issues are and how our city will address them. We need candidates who have a long-term vision for St. Albert. 
Four years from now it may not matter so much whether St. Albert opted to build a branch library, found other space solutions or postponed any action at all. What will matter is that St. Albert elected a city council that has the capacity to work together to find solutions on a broad spectrum of issues to keep St. Albert an attractive place to live and do business. 
Focusing the electorate on one issue may be an appealing election strategy, but it is shortsighted and not a productive way to choose the best candidates for city council.
St. Albert Gazette: The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.