Heron’s State of the City speech an ode to optimism

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St. Albert ‘thriving,’ mayor says

Mayor Cathy Heron’s first State of the City address focused on collaboration with council and with other municipalities in the region.

The mayor addressed a room full of public servants and business owners on Wednesday morning at the Enjoy Centre, and sent a message that the city is doing well.

“I am here today to tell you that not only are we OK, but the state of our city is one that is thriving and prospering,” Heron said.

Heron’s focus on collaboration started with her own council, when she thanked all of her council members for their ability to get along.

“The unhealthy negativity has dissipated, making room for confidence and pride in our great city,” Heron said.

Heron also noted the council’s collaborative focus in the region, including working with Sturgeon County towards annexation and working with provincial and municipal partners to tackle traffic problems on Ray Gibbon Drive.

Jennifer McCurdy, president and CEO of the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, said the focus on collaboration is well-received in the business community.

“I was really pleased to hear about regional collaboration and cooperation, even when it comes to annexation and Villeneuve Airport,” McCurdy said.

On Wednesday, Heron announced the city would be trying to get onto the Edmonton airport board to advocate for the advancement of services at Villeneuve Airport.

Following her 30-minute speech, Heron took questions from the crowd. Lynda Moffat asked where the city was with advocating for Ray Gibbon Drive.

Heron thanked the two local MLAs for working hard on advocating for the twinning of the roadway, and said city manager Kevin Scoble had been meeting with the province about the issue.

“I guess what I can say about Ray Gibbon is probably in the next year we can announce something,” Heron said, adding that it probably won’t be the twinning of the entire road, but their focus will be on the south end.

McCurdy said the traffic problem on Ray Gibbon Drive is a major issue for future business development in the corridor, and she is pleased St. Albert is communicating with Edmonton to address the issue.

Heron’s speech also touched on the importance of having affordable housing options for young families in St. Albert and said that the city has long overlooked the “missing middle” of housing options.

“Smaller versions of traditional houses is not what the youth of today want. The youth of today have embraced the idea of density and not just as a cost savings but also to provide an active lifestyle, better conveniences and a better stewardship of their world,” Heron said.

McCurdy said affordable housing impacts businesses in many different ways and is happy to see council focusing on options for young families.

“Whether it’s attracting young people to stay in our community or attracting new ones in, these are the people that are going to support the local businesses and they are going to become employees,” McCurdy said.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.