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Councillors-elect look at motions, priorities

As results for St. Albert's civic election become official, the newly elected council is wrapping up its first week of orientation.
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As results for St. Albert's civic election become official, the newly elected council is wrapping up its first week of orientation. The new council is marked by diverse backgrounds and experience, and each councillor-elect has a priority for what they want to accomplish first now that they're in office. Sheena Hughes, who spent the past four years on council before securing her re-election this past week, said she has already given notice for two upcoming motions that the new council will debate after their swearing-in. The first is a motion to return municipal sustainability initiative funding back to the city's utility rate funding formula, which she says will save residents approximately $150 per year on their water bills. It's a subject Hughes campaigned on and something she has been advocating for for years. "This was an unnecessary rate increase that I have been trying to rectify since the substantial additional charges were added to residents' water bills in 2015," she said. Her second motion will have council debate on rescinding the contentious branch library borrowing bylaw, which the outgoing council approved in July, and discontinuing further planning to build and construct a branch library. That motion comes in the wake of a non-binding plebiscite vote that saw 63.1 per cent of voters cast ballots against further planning of a branch library. Wes Brodhead, who was re-elected for a third term, said he plans to work on developing "appropriate support" for the Collective's youth services. He said that would probably require a budget motion once the council-elect begins dealing with the city's budget in November. "I've done some background work on the topic, but I have yet to read the proposed 2018 budget in detail," he said. "Some of the concerns related to additional support may already be addressed; if not, then I'll make the required motion and argument." The key, he said, would be to convince his fellow councillors-elect of the need to support the Collective. Jacquie Hansen, a former school board trustee, said that her priority is to set a productive tone on council. "That means understanding our role, looking at the Cuff report recommendations and setting some ground rules to encourage co-operation and collaboration in our working relationships," she said. As far as budget deliberations go, Hansen said she is looking forward to the discussion and debate that generates. Ken MacKay, a retired police officer, said that orientation so far has given him the opportunity to get started on what he identified during the election campaign as his first priority: building relationships with the mayor-elect and fellow councillors-elect. "We are quickly moving into budget discussions and I will be focusing on issues identified in my platform, focusing on finding efficiencies and opportunities to improve services," he said. Natalie Joly, a photographer and an outreach worker for the North Edmonton Seniors Association, said during the election her main priority would be building relationships with the rest of council. Although she couldn't be reached for comment, Joly said during the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce forum on Oct. 10 that the recommendations contained in George Cuff's municipal inspection report would be important for that. Ray Watkins, a land use planner and developer, was also unavailable for comment. During the Chamber forum, he said establishing a cohesive governance team would be his main priority. Orientation continues throughout October before the councillors-elect and mayor-elect Cathy Heron are sworn in on Oct. 30. City budget deliberations begin the following week.

April Hudson

About the Author: April Hudson

April is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette
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