The St. Albert Gazette's March 17 headline, “Key Planning Document delayed”, underlies a serious issue. The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) is the key document guiding land development in St. Albert. It was last updated in 2007.
I participated in the March 15 public hearing concerning a new Municipal Development Plan. Two principal groups presented issues. The concerns raised by the Big Lake Environment Support Society (BLESS) did not measurably change the direction of the MDP. However, the late public hearing submission by the Urban Design Institute (UDI) was troubling because it dealt with issues that had already been dismissed during the public hearing process.
Administration’s reasons for setting aside UDI concerns were included in council’s agenda report supporting the amended bylaw. However, the ensuing council discussion did not reflect any councillor having a recollection of what was contained in the agenda report. Consequently, I was disappointed with council’s decision to adjourn the public hearing principally for the reasons of further examining a dissatisfied stakeholder who did not get their way in a public consultation process.
From my perspective, the input of over 17,000 individuals, organizations, businesses were being set aside to deal with issues that had already been addressed under a public review process. The material administration submitted to council in support of the amended bylaw bears this out. Further, however minor the text changes UDI seeks may appear, e.g., "ensure" to "encouraging", they will loosen the intent and direction of the MDP. Bottom line ... UDI has had a front seat involvement in the preparation of the new MDP. The fact their interests have not prevailed is because a majority of the 17,000 respondents did not agree with the direction they were seeking.
I supported the amended Bylaw 20/2020 put forward by Administration. All I am asking is that council better support and recognize the merit of the consultation processes it asked administration to follow and not be swayed by one vested interest.
Ken Crutchfield, St. Albert