The St. Albert Gazette article from Wednesday, Sept. 25 (“Speakers favour Erin Ridge North location for rec facility”) concerned me.
I have strong objections to MLA Dale Nally inserting himself into the issue and speaking to council. He is entitled to his opinion, but I feel he should not be “championing” or “putting his shoulder” into influencing the city’s decision on location by using his position as an MLA. Frankly, it smacks of trying to score political points by ensuring the facility goes in his riding (which he freely admitted in the article) and not in the neighbouring riding – which is represented by an opposing MLA. Why else would he actually be endorsing the option that is almost double the cost to taxpayers? That flies in the face of common sense, and you would think goes against his own conservative values. And as an Erin Ridge resident himself, he should be more sensitive to the increasing pressure our area is under with all the development that has already occurred and is still planned. In fact, the overwhelming majority of respondents on a Facebook post question put out by Mayor Heron – asking for input as to which option would be best (and at that time, there were no dollar figures given) – stated that the city should look at the cheapest option for land ... the already city-owned Badger Lands. Erin Ridge residents were close to unanimous that they felt our area was not a good choice, given the already significant retail/commercial concentration and traffic congestion. That’s certainly the consensus of the people I’ve spoken to.
This rec centre is being built for the benefit of all of St. Albert, and as such I would expect our council and administration to be looking at the best possible location for all St. Albert residents. Servus Place and Fountain Park, as well as Akinsdale and Kinsmen arenas are located east of St. Albert Trail and south of the river (the southeast quadrant) – maybe it’s time to have additional rec facilities in the northwest quadrant. Another very important factor in the decision should be a consideration of access and parking. Certainly council has to be aware of the impact all the development has had in the Erin Ridge area. The Badger Lands and the Rohit site both offer the opportunity to create good access and parking without creating more chaos in the already congested area of Erin Ridge North and St. Albert Trail. And finally, but most importantly, in these economic times it’s critical to look at the financial side of the equation and go for the more affordable option ... for the city and ultimately for us taxpayers.
K. Van Hoof, St. Albert