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City council to revisit strategic plan during upcoming session

St. Albert city council will end the first month of 2023 with two days of strategic planning, giving council and city administration an opportunity to reflect on the 2022-2025 strategic plan after the first full year of the council term.
Council is heading to the River Cree Resort and Casino for the annual strategic planning session on Jan. 30 and 31. FILE/Photo

Local council members will be gathering next week to revisit and reassess their long-term plan for their council term, which includes tackling things like financial sustainability and community well-being. 

St. Albert council will end the first full year of its term revisiting its 2022-25 objectives at an annual strategic planning session with city administration on Jan. 30-31. 

"This will be the first kind of 'touch base' after we approved our four-year plan last year," Mayor Cathy Heron said.

"This will be the first time we've gotten together to just sort of see if that plan still is relevant, any progress we're making towards it, and have an opportunity to intermingle with administration and the directors to see how they plan on achieving what we set out to do in our strategy."

The four-year plan includes five priorities for administration as projects and yearly budgets are developed. Council identified economic prosperity, a vibrant downtown, community well-being, adapting to a changing natural environment, and financial sustainability as top issues for its four-year term. 

The two-day event at River Cree Resort and Casino will be council's first chance to revisit the plan, and the first planning session to involve the city's recently hired chief administrative officer (CAO) Bill Fletcher, who took over from interim-CAO Kerry Hilts last June.

"I do think we're going to have a good conversation about Lakeview [Business District]. I think that's probably the next thing that needs to be front and centre, and maybe a check-in on what's going on with the downtown Business Improvement Area progress," Heron said. 

Lakeview Business District is St. Albert's newest designated industrial area, although it has yet to be developed. The land is located just north of Big Lake along Ray Gibbon Drive.

The planning session will also give first-term councillors Shelley Biermanski and Mike Killick an opportunity to reflect on their first year on council.

"After the first full year on council, it surprises me how much is going on in the city," Killick said in an interview. "Operationally, just to keep the city running, is a huge chunk of work."

"I think spending two days to make sure that council and administration are aligned and on the same page when it comes to what the priorities are is super important."

Killick added he hopes council and administration will have in-depth discussions about generating new sources of revenue for the city, as well as the future Lakeview Business District. 

Biermanski said she would like to see a more detailed strategic plan and feels there's room to be more innovative. 

"I'd like more detailed planning rather than just talking points that I would say that every municipality uses in their strategic plan," Biermanski said in an interview. 

"I'd like to be a little bit more creative and innovative for our community rather than just repeating what everyone's supposed to be doing," she said. "In this year's planning we will have to try to find some common ground because our original strategic plan ... I didn't see it personally as a strategic plan that we all agreed on."

To wrap up the annual planning session, council will meet and have dinner with Enoch Cree Nation's newly elected Chief Cody Thomas.

Heron said she hasn't met Chief Thomas yet but looks forward to establishing a relationship.

"I know Edmonton and Enoch have a bilateral agreement, and last term we were talking about extending that into St. Albert and making it a trilateral agreement," Heron said. 

"I think that's something we could talk about with the chief when we meet him."

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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