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St Albert on the fence?

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  • St Albert on the fence?

    Originally posted by Edmonton Journal
    Friday » November 10 » 2006

    Time for St. Albert mayor to get off fence
    Paul Chalifoux should get over his annexation paranoia and represent his city's interests properly

    Scott McKeen
    The Edmonton Journal

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    St. Albert's Mayor Paul Chalifoux sits on fences to survey the bright side of life.

    Chalifoux is blessed with an irrepressible sense of optimism. Either that or an irrepressible sense of denial.

    Chalifoux wants St. Albert to remain in the regional coffee klatch known as the Alberta Capital Region Alliance, while also attending meetings of a breakaway group led by insurgent Edmonton.

    That ACRA has never accomplished anything substantial in 10 years doesn't faze Chalifoux. Nor does the spectre of regional counties getting fat off the coming industrial boom, while towns and cities fight over the scraps.

    Instead, Chalifoux remains protective of the counties and suspicious of Edmonton's departure from ACRA.

    "It's an episode in another chapter of what I would consider Edmonton's long-term goal to establish a mega-city," Chalifoux told the St. Albert Gazette this week.

    Except that it's not. Cities across the province, not just Edmonton, are complaining about inadequate funding, poor regional planning and empire building in neighbouring counties.

    And St. Albert is about the last place on earth Edmonton wants to absorb. St. Albert might be, as the brochures proclaim, Alberta's finest city.

    But it's almost solely reliant on residential property tax to survive. It has almost no industrial tax base and is in a constant financial struggle.

    St. Albert already has the highest residential property taxes in the Edmonton region. And it's talking of seven-per-cent tax hikes in each of the next two years. That's on top of the levy collected each year to cover the costs of the city's grand multiplex recreation centre.

    Annexation would help St. Albert taxpayers and hurt Edmonton's. Annex St. Albert? No thanks.

    Not when St. Albert's chances of attracting a significant amount of industry remain slim. Sturgeon County, immediately north, is where the heavy oil upgraders are planned.

    Sturgeon is a historic rival to St. Albert. They battle over land and finances. They're at it again over St. Albert's annexation bid for land in Sturgeon.

    "We have our issues in St. Albert," Chalifoux told me.

    "But what? We should stand with Mandel and go after the resources of the four neighbouring counties? That looks like a raid."

    No wonder Chalifoux doesn't sound keen about attending meetings of Mandel's new alliance.

    "If Mayor Mandel calls other meetings, I'll go on a time-availability basis," said Chalifoux. "The last meeting wasn't called at my convenience."

    Fortunately for the taxpayers of St. Albert, Chalifoux's stubborn allegiance to ACRA isn't supported by other members of his council, who want to see more of Edmonton's plans for a new regional deal.

    "Clearly, ACRA isn't working," said Coun. Neil Korotash.

    As he said, it's difficult to get consensus around a dinner table, let alone in a meeting of 23 distinct municipalities.

    Korotash's one complaint is that Mandel has shown little respect to ACRA members. Apparently, he's been condescending, treating rural politicians like country bumpkins.

    I'm not surprised. Mandel can be terribly glib at times. It's not just that he doesn't suffer fools. It's that he too often sees fools all around him. But if he's been condescending, maybe it's because ACRA has been a disaster for Edmonton. In ACRA, a municipality's population matters not at all. But in others things, provincial and municipal elections, for example, population does matter. Mandel fights for population-rich urban areas to get a greater say in rural industrial development, along with a greater share of the profits.

    Why Chalifoux isn't doing the same is a mystery. He needs to get over his annexation paranoia, along with his Pollyanna view of ACRA and properly represent St. Albert's interests.

    Pick a side, Mr. Mayor. Fence-sitting is a pain in the arse, for all of us.

    [email protected]

    © The Edmonton Journal 2006

    Copyright © 2006 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.
    I have some issues with what's said here, but the main concern here is fiscal. I've known for quite some time that the bert is unsustainable financially...and it is a deterrant to annexation of St Albert as is...

    BUT, it needs to either change its pleasentville attitude to survuve or come on bended knees for help. I think that is why Paul is fence sitting - which way to go?

    I'll let my opinion be known in my co-operation column due out in December.
    My hope is that you can finally get rid of the anger in your heart, and fill it with peace, compassion, understanding, and a desire to uplift rather than suppress.

    After all, we are all together on this home, this pale blue dot, the "only home we've ever known.”

  • #2
    Well as much as I've wanted to see Edm annex a couple main areas around Edm, if it's not fiscally wise to do so then we wont. But if that is the case then it's time for at least one place, St. Albert to put away it's fears and start working with Edm.

    Fine, St.Albert can remain it's own city but somethings can be eliminated from there and the city of Edm can take over or at least work closer with St. Albert. One example is the transit system and LRT. It maybe our train that goes out there with St. Albert residents paying a small commuter surcharge when buying a ticket or their bus pass which goes to Edm transit. St. Albert could even have Edm pay for the initial construction while St. Albert pays and continues maintenance. St. Albert can even maintain their bus system within the their city, and the concession is that Edmonton bus pass holders can ride withing St.Albert at no extra charge.
    LRT is our future, time to push forward.