I have reviewed the YouTube video of the May 19, 2020, St. Albert council meeting and I must express my disappointment in council supporting the Averton development proposal for South Riel in its existing form.
Most presentations and discussions centered on the shadowing effect of the high rise structures. A resident in the area addressed other critical issues, such as overpopulation, traffic and parking. Her representation spoke more to the soul and fabric of what makes St. Albert the community that has caused most of us to move here in the first place. Councillor Sheena Hughes was the only councillor who spoke at length supporting the residents' position on overcrowding. Her concerns seemed to be addressing the residents' needs, not the developer. Unfortunately, most concerns appeared to be not taken seriously by the rest of council and their minds were clearly made up before the meeting.
Recent development proposals approved by this council have taken away much of the ambiance enjoyed by residents for so long. Growth for the sake of growth should not sacrifice quality of growth. Councillor Wes Brodhead seemed more concerned about the developers getting a saleable product to protect their hard-earned money than he was about the hard-earned money citizens spent to live in the area.
Councillor Ray Watkins' shocking comment to a St. Albert resident making a presentation is shameful. Remorseful as he was about being caught on open mic, it candidly reflects his attitude to anyone speaking against the proposal. Perhaps it was just a Freudian slip, or maybe it was a slip on behalf of council.
Councillor Watkins' approach to this issue speaks to his career as a land use planner/developer and his support for that industry. He fails to look at the proposal from the residents' viewpoint. The apparent influence and familiarity of developers with this council is alarming, in my opinion.
I am not against development or progress. I remember the Heritage Lakes development was opposed by many people in the Grandin area, and the Anthony Henday faced fierce opposition as well. However, please consider the scope and scale of this proposal and future proposals and the concerns of the citizens of St. Albert in deciding such important issues. Have we not learned anything about high-density living from this recent pandemic scare? Let us not lose sight of what makes St. Albert such an attractive place to live in the first place and is the envy of many visitors to our community.
Once again, kudos to Councillor Sheena Hughes for not losing sight of what makes St. Albert St. Albert. When are you running for mayor? You would make a dandy.