As Sturgeon County looks poised to trash a long-standing planning document with the City of St. Albert, local politicians are starting to think about what will replace it.
The county has started the process of repealing the intermunicipal development plan (IDP) and could essentially repeal the document on June 22 following a public hearing.
In addition to setting up a plan for the area on their shared borders, the IDP required the two municipalities to hold regular meetings to help resolve issues.
At what might have been the last IDP meeting on Saturday, officials from both municipalities started to talk about what they think should fill the void.
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse said it forced the communities to come together on issues.
“The IDP itself was a forcing function, it was a vehicle to do it. Without that vehicle we will need another vehicle.”
He said he respects the right of Sturgeon to decide to leave the IDP, but he wants to make sure both communities continue working on issues together.
“I am not going to be critical of what seven other elected officials do because that is their democratic right to make those decisions.”
Crouse said the other existing structure, a joint council committee, hasn’t met regularly and could be too big to work effectively.
Crouse points out that with seven councillors per side and a host of administrative staff, the meetings can be difficult to plan and co-ordinate.
“It is probably too many, so I think it has the potential, but it is structured to be too big and it doesn’t have the mandate to it.”
Crouse suggested the communities might want to look at a smaller working group to address issues that will inevitably arise.
Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney suggested another route that could replace the IDP committee, but he believes bringing more people to the table, not less is the answer.
Rigney suggested the two municipalities look to the model from Houston, Tex. the Greater Houston partnership.
That organization brings in many different groups, including municipalities, state officials as well as industry representatives, schools and hospitals to look at the big picture of a region.
Rigney said if successful, that kind of group could become a model.
“To me that would be a far better design and it might initiate something for our community and it would show the way for the Edmonton region and the province.”
While he acknowledges some of the circumstances are different, he said Houston has seen tremendous growth, attracting people as well as a high tech and manufacturing industry.
“We should at least look at it because I think it is a great example of how the right organization can really help a community.”
Crouse said the idea is worth looking at, but worries about the size.
“I can understand the potential, but again that could be 20 or 30 people and it would require some protocols and structure to it so that would take some building.”
Both councils are set to meet sometime after the county’s June 22 public hearing to further discuss new possibilities.