With the provincial election under way, St. Albert city councillors are making sure candidates and voters are keeping municipal issues top of mind.
One way the city plans to achieve this is through a pamphlet brochure that outlines eight priorities for the city, including stable and predictable funding, accessible housing options, developing and implementing a province-wide extended producer responsibility program and a cannabis revenue-sharing agreement.
Mayor Cathy Heron said the brochure is meant to highlight the interconnectivity municipalities have with the province to not only bring that to the attention of the candidates but also voters.
“Because we're a child of the province, (voters) really need to think about how that affects their municipalities,” she said. “(The province and municipalities are) so closely linked and I don't think people get that. We wanted to make that link. So it just outlined a couple of things that are really St. Albert-specific.”
Prior to the writ being dropped, the NDP announced funding in February for the long-awaited twinning of Ray Gibbon Drive. With a new government possibly coming into power on April 16, Heron said she hopes whoever is in charge will honour the commitment to twin Ray Gibbon.
She added she wasn’t too worried about that. At the time of the announcement, officials characterized the deal as election-proof, since it was a contract between the province and the city instead of a budget promise.
Parent Link priority
The city is also continuing its lobbying efforts for a Parent Link centre in St. Albert. These centres exist across Alberta and give parents and caregivers resources and support for early childhood development. St. Albert is one of a few mid-sized cities not to have one.
Heron said St. Albert "desperately needs" one.
“Most municipalities across Alberta get (funding) through Parent Link and St. Albert doesn't have access to that. So we're lobbying for it,” she said.
The election priorities from the city are meant to be non-partisan in nature, since the city will have to work with whichever party forms government this spring.
Heron pointed out some of St. Albert's requests wouldn’t cost the government money, such as creating an extended producer responsibility program. The idea is by working together with companies, the responsibility for recycling items such as cereal boxes and other materials will shift from municipalities to those who actually produce the goods.
“It's not about spending," she said. "A lot of these requests are definitely not about spending. It's just about treating municipalities fairly and I don't think anyone would ever argue against that."
Councillors aren't the only one hoping to keep key issues at the forefront for candidates.
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association has also released a roadmap focusing on three main issues – equitable infrastructure funding, a fair share of cannabis revenue and improved resources for policing services.
“These topics should not be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention as AUMA has been advocating on these issues for quite some time,” AUMA president Barry Morishita said in a media release.
“Municipalities need equitable funding for infrastructure. The City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton have received a long-term funding agreement linked to provincial revenues, now is the time for the rest of Alberta municipalities to get the same type of deal. We also need a commitment for our fair share of cannabis revenue, and we need a new funding model to improve resources for police services.”
Candidates running in St. Albert include NDP incumbent Marie Renaud, United Conservative Party candidate Jeff Wedman, Green Party candidate Cameron Jefferies, Liberal Party candidate Kevin McLean, Alberta Advantage Party candidate Donald Petruka, Alberta Party candidate Barry Bailey and Alberta Independence Party candidate Sheldon Gron.
Candidates running in Morinville-St. Albert include NDP candidate Natalie Birnie, UCP candidate Dale Nally, Green Party candidate Cass Romyn, Alberta Party candidate Neil Korotash and Alberta Independence Party candidate Mike Van Velzen.