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Is the sky really falling?

Let us begin with a note of admiration for the St. Albert Taxpayers Association. This highly vocal special interest group of St. Albert citizens is convinced that we are in terrible, terrible trouble, right here in the River City by the Sturgeon.

Let us begin with a note of admiration for the St. Albert Taxpayers Association. This highly vocal special interest group of St. Albert citizens is convinced that we are in terrible, terrible trouble, right here in the River City by the Sturgeon. Their warnings of impending civic bankruptcy based on irresponsible spending are attack ads of admirable proportion.

I will not trouble you with a list of their complaints or statistics. Rather, I offer an alternative to their vision of St. Albert as voting day for city council approaches. Surely if their representatives sit in council seats, we can look forward to a different city from the one that has developed over the past 150 years.

First, St. Albert has a rich history that bears celebrating. We should not abandon restoring the Little White School, the only two-room schoolhouse left in Alberta. We should continue to tell the story of early Alberta at the Father Lacombe Chapel. The grain elevators are both in working order and their story should continue to be told rather than closing the doors (or worse) and letting them stand in silence. The homes of pioneers such as the Chevigny, Hogan, Cunningham and Brosseau families now located at our heritage site should not be allowed to decay and collapse. They should be places where we can honour their contributions. And our Musée Heritage Museum should continue to preserve and tell the story of St. Albert to us all.

Profiles Art Gallery of St. Albert provided curriculum-based art programs to 32,000 children last year. It has a provincial mandate to promote Alberta’s emerging artists and did so this past season by exhibiting the works of 125 artists. It shouldn’t be abandoned.

The International Children’s Festival is a signature cultural event for St. Albert with an audience that reaches far beyond our city boundaries. The Arden Theatre brings world class performing artists to our city and is the only place in St. Albert for schools and the Rotary Music Festival to hold some of their events. It is also home to the St. Albert Children’s Theatre. Our public library had 300,000 visits last year. They shouldn’t be shut down.

Servus Place has had a rocky start but we would be hard pressed to find an alternative to its 7,000 members and for many recreational sports teams that serve our youth. The water park, swimming pools, the skateboard ramp, and playgrounds that St. Albert families use are all part of our city’s life. They need to be maintained.

The botanic park and the baseball diamonds are places of pride for St. Albertans of many ages. They need to continue to have access to municipal services for structural support.

All of these are at risk if one supports the Taxpayers Association. This merry band of citizens demands that the city abandon involvement in our cultural and recreational life. If we want to visit museums or art galleries, if we want to shop, eat or be entertained, their members say we can go to Edmonton. They are happy with our gas stations, big box stores and local shopping centres for convenience use. But for serious living, abandon all hope if you live in St. Albert.

I don’t think so.

Alan Murdock is a local pediatrician.