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St. Albert seniors share concerns about Millennium Park design

Parking, consultation at top of list of issues raised at event
Ciara Fraser, the resident who launched the petition against Millennium Park, asked St. Albert councillors why they didn’t take the issue to a plebiscite.

More than 300 St. Albert residents poured into the local seniors centre last week to raise concerns around things like parking when it comes to the city’s design for Millennium Park.

Many seniors who attended the event on March 6 asked city councillors Wes Brodhead and Mike Killick questions about the park, which is slated to be built next to Red Willow Place.

Top of mind for the crowd was access to parking, the overall cost of the project, the Seniors Association's local garden and overall consultation when it comes to the city moving forward with Millennium Park.

Doug Delorme with the St. Albert Legion said parking is a challenge in the area, especially when special events are happening downtown.

“Down here in the summer, it's very hard to find a place to park,” Delorme said.

“With the new park here, if there's no extra parking anywhere else, it’s just going to be havoc,” Delorme said.

Another local resident spoke up, saying it is already difficult to find parking in the area and many seniors don’t have the ability to walk long distances, and need parking close to the building to access services.  

Killick said that for special events, park-and-ride locations could be opened in the city so residents don’t need to drive downtown.

“We recognize that there's no way that it would be acceptable to just say, ‘drive downtown.’ It would impact the seniors centre parking. So, when we talked about events and parking, we talked about having Park and Ride facilities to support,” Killick said.

“We know there is not enough parking here on a good day”

Ciara Fraser, the resident who launched the petition against Millennium Park, asked the councillors why they didn’t take the issue to a plebiscite before they moved forward with the borrowing bylaw, which she saw as non-essential spending.

Brodhead said while some residents may see the park as non-essential, it is council’s job to govern the city without taking issues that come up to a plebiscite. The best way to hold a plebiscite is through a successful citizen petition, Brodhead said.

“I applaud you for feeling passionate about what you want to do. And I hope you get the numbers and we'll see how it all plays out,” Brodhead said.

Representatives from community groups like the St. Albert Curling Club, the St. Albert Legion, the St. Albert Métis Local 1904 and Rock’n August, all came out to ask council for more consultation before they move forward with the park.

Other residents spoke up and said areas for youth in the city are already not being used to their full capacity, including Kinsmen Park just next door to the seniors centre. They didn’t see why more youth spaces should be built right next to a space dedicated for seniors, cramping the seniors' access to their facility.

Red Willow Place executive director Linda Ensley raised concerns the future redeveloped park space will destroy the association's gardening space and the pollinator garden they have outside the building. 

Council passed first reading of a $20.8 million borrowing bylaw for the park on Jan. 23.

Jennifer Henderson

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette and has been with Great West Media since 2015
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