It will be a busy year for St. Albert’s economic development advisory committee.
Last week city council approved 10 priorities for the committee, known as SAEDAC, whose role is to advise council on economic development issues.
Atop the list is a mapping project, known as geographic information system (GIS), which will model the development of the annexed lands and provide council with three scenarios that demonstrate the property tax implications of different mixes of residential and industrial.
“No one’s done the modelling to figure it out,” said SAEDAC chair Gilles Prefontaine. “Until you draw it all out, you don’t necessarily know what that might look like from a tax assessment perspective.”
Prefontaine expects the GIS study to be finished sometime in April.
Council’s SAEDAC representative Coun. Cam MacKay was surprised that such a technical study would fall to a committee of volunteers and not city staff.
“Right now I guess we do have a problem in planning. It’s been well documented throughout the process that we don’t have enough staff. Perhaps there’s some red tape that can be cut there as well,” he said.
SAEDAC has members who are experts in the GIS field so it asked to take on the project, Prefontaine said.
Overall, MacKay said he’s glad council has a resource like SAEDAC to draw upon.
“It’s nice to supplement the knowledge you get from the city with knowledge you get from the people that live here,” he said.
Another committee priority will be taking the GIS information and conducting an employment lands study, which will investigate how to develop the annexed lands to achieve the city’s goal of an 80/20 ratio between residential and non-residential development.
Another priority is the development of medium density infill guidelines, to provide more clarity around redevelopment in established neighbourhoods. This is an issue that in recent years has affected a number of older neighbourhoods, such as Grandin, Mission, Braeside and Akinsdale.
“We’ve had infill going into some of these neighbourhoods today but there aren’t stringent guidelines around that,” Prefontaine said.
The city is at a size where the guidelines are much needed, he said.
The committee has also been asked to help write the job description of the new marketing manager position that council approved in the last budget. The committee’s focus will be on building and supporting the city’s new brand in an effort to help St. Albert become an eco-economic hub, Prefontaine said.
SAEDAC will also study different models that municipalities use to promote economic development. This has the potential to change the city’s current structure but isn’t meant to be a review of the effectiveness of the economic development branch, Prefontaine said.
Other priorities include:
• Helping to define the city’s economic development role within the region and its role in a new project Edmonton is spearheading to attract venture capital;
• Providing recommendations on how to rezone the North Campbell Business Park, which has been requested by the property’s owner;
• Exploring ways to improve the river to make downtown more vibrant and a greater tourist attraction.
1. Geographic information system (GIS) mapping study
2. Medium density infill guidelines
3. Role of marketing manager
4. Study of economic development models
5. St. Albert's role in the regional economic development roadmap
6. St. Albert's role in regional venture capital project
7. Economic development branding
8. North Campbell rezoning
9. Sturgeon River opportunities
10. Employment lands study