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EDITORIAL: Prudent choice

"For every senior who struggles to afford a dog licence, we know there are many more residents of all ages who struggle to pay property tax hikes."

Our city councillors are no doubt bracing themselves for flak from residents upset with the decision to cancel a pilot program to give discounted dog licences to seniors, but they made the right – if unpopular – move.

Giving our seniors population half-off their licences sounds great, but does nothing to solve the problems our low-income residents – seniors or otherwise – face. For every senior who struggles to afford a dog licence, we know there are many more residents of all ages who struggle to pay property tax hikes. Any money council spends now will need to be justified against the pandemic-related deficit we will face come budget time this November.

Mayor Cathy Heron was right when she said on Sept. 8 that council needs to listen to the province’s urging for municipalities to be prudent with spending and avoid tax increases during this pandemic.

Residents should not take this as a sign that this council is not supportive of our senior population. This council was responsible for starting the seniors’ advisory committee and has continued to provide tens of thousands of dollars in grant funding to support the St. Albert Seniors’ Association, which runs important services such as Meals on Wheels and the Seniors’ Outreach Program. They also made efforts to increase the selection of affordable housing in St. Albert by overhauling the city’s land use bylaw – an issue that affects low-income seniors’ bottom lines more than the $38 per year to licence a spayed or neutered dog.

Discounts for city programs should be based on income, not age. If the goal is to alleviate financial stress, fiscal prudence that reduces tax increases is a good place to start.

Speed review

Consistent speed limits on St. Albert's roads and longer school zone times around elementary schools would bring long-overdue improvements to St. Albert's road network.

The city's survey on traffic changes is open until Oct. 2 and features a virtual town hall meeting Wednesday evening to hear from residents. Some of the proposed changes include reducing speed limits on local neighbourhood roads from 50 to 40 km/h; changing elementary school zones into playground zones with hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; increasing the speed limit on parts of Bellerose Drive, Sir Winston Churchill Avenue, Sturgeon Road and Dawson Road (we would add Grandin Road to this list) from 50 to 60 km/h; and removing 30 km/h zones on Sturgeon Road, Mission Avenue, Grosvenor Boulevard, Grenfell Avenue and Meadowview Drive.

Bringing consistency to St. Albert's speed limits could greatly increase the efficiency of moving around the city and reduce frustration for drivers who must keep an eye out for speed changes. This speed review grew out of the city's mission to reduce injuries and fatal collisions on St. Albert's roadways. Speed is an overarching factor that leads to accidents. Anything that can done to improve the odds in favour of safety is laudable.


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