The subject of the city creating a municipal energy corporation and a solar farm has become a hot topic. The advertisement in the Aug. 18 Gazette by John Farlinger and Bruce McPherson, as well as many concerned citizens, have brought forward a number of financial and accountability concerns this council does not seem to understand.
A similar proposal was voted down in December 2019, yet we are seeing it being presented again with many unanswered questions. The role of elected officials is to provide responsible governance and not become involved in operating businesses, as they do not have the business acumen.
All projects presented to city council must have a well-researched feasibility study and well thought out business case to justify the project and its costs. The current business case is flawed in its revenue assumptions and financial costs. It is imperative members of council do their homework, listen to subject matter experts, and ask the pertinent questions.
Elected officials are not qualified as subject matter experts and have to rely on administration’s advice. Most important, council needs to listen to those knowledgeable on the specific topic being brought forward.
Council is accountable to those it serves and must be open and transparent in responding to media questions, citizens’ questions, and interviews. Anything less impacts their credibility.
Based on the recent letters to the editor, this council has not been transparent. Research shows other municipalities such as Chestermere, have gone down this path and it did not work out, so they now have to address how to handle a $30-million financial issue. Fort McMurray was another jurisdiction considering a similar investment.
If council is hoping this project will resolve the revenue situation, there are other less risky options to consider, such as reducing unnecessary spending. It was Lee Iacocca, a former CEO of Chrysler, who once said, any company can cut its costs by 10 per cent and the service levels will not be compromised.
This is a municipal election year, and it is hoped candidates with business experience will put their names forward and voters will take the time to become informed, so qualified candidates are elected. My temptation is there!
Malcolm Parker, St. Albert resident and former city councillor