A city councillor would like to put the brakes on smart growth in St. Albert’s annexed lands before council delves any further into the issue.
Following a lengthy discussion on smart growth during a council meeting Monday night, Coun. Gareth Jones gave notice that he’s bringing forward a motion to delete all references to smart growth in the municipal development plan (MDP) and replace it with “sustainable growth” instead.
Smart growth refers to a set of design strategies meant to reduce urban sprawl. The focus is on more compact development, walkable neighbourhoods, mixed developments and easy access to transit, shopping and businesses.
Jones said the city would be better off developing a hybrid set of general guidelines outlining sustainable neighbourhood design for a winter city, rather than adopting smart growth principles for the entire annexed lands.
“The full 100 per cent smart growth, I don’t think it’s a go for St. Albert,” said Jones, who personally has done much research on the issue. He believes the city should have first conducted a market analysis before diving headfirst into the issue.
“I don’t think it’s marketable and I strongly believe that before you can produce a concept or product you have to do a marketability study.”
The city started exploring the idea of creating smart growth principles for the annexed lands back in 2007, but the process didn’t start taking shape until last spring. The concept has since been the subject of skepticism on council and from groups like the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce.
Jones, along with Coun. James Burrows and Coun. Roger Lemieux, has not shied away from voicing disapproval over smart growth for St. Albert.
After much debate about whether to continue with the smart growth review, council voted 4-3 to open up discussions with developers and groups like the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce and St. Albert economic development advisory committee.
Administration will come back with a list of recommended smart growth principles by March 1.
If the model doesn’t fit with what Jones has in mind, he has every intention of formally introducing his motion.
“I do believe that a hybrid type of development plan could work. And that is a mixture of what we are doing now with some of the smart growth principles,” he said.