Last week I sent out the following message (in part) to folks on my 'contact list' and asked them to re-send to others in St Albert. The response from both this and the 'contact Al' opportunity on this webpage has been OUTSTANDING! So much so, that I run the risk of running out of signs before election day.
"The rules allow for election signs to be placed starting on Sept 18. They must be removed by Oct 18. I have always been unimpressed with the visual blight of election signs along our roadways and the associated environmental waste. But, I have been educated that name recognition thru such signs is critical.
The way I’m trying to mitigate this is by minimizing the number of signs ordered, and by placing them on private property (where vandalism is also somewhat reduced) instead of along our roadways. I’m also expecting that a form of ‘endorsement’ is implied when the signs relate to a household, as opposed to being on the side of the road. I can certainly use this kind of community support.
My preference would be to have all my small election signs posted on SA front lawns, as the most effective way of ensuring the ‘name recognition’ factor. If you are able to host a lawn sign, please just reply with your name, email and the street address. My volunteer team will drive by and install the signs as they have time."
If you don't see any (or many) of my little signs along the roadways in SA, my strategy will have been successful!
I still have some left. If you wish to help my cause, please continue to volunteer for hosting a sign. When I do run out, I'll post here for all to know.
Thank you all so much!
Candidate - St. Albert City Council
16 October 2017
Resident of St. Albert for 33 years
Retired Edmonton Police Service member - 30 years policing experience
Volunteer with 30 years experience in non-profit governance
‘Professional Conduct’ management experience - 18 years
Experience in contract negotiations, labor relations, mediation, arbitration - 5 years
I will work for ALL of St. Albert for:
Reduce CITY EXPENSES by;
• Working closely with the Internal Auditor - evaluate City expenditures and efficiencies
• Review St. Albert Transit schedules and routes to improve service and reduce costs
• Reduce City capitol project overrun policy from 50% to 15%
• Implement long term funding agreement with St. Albert Public Library
QUALITY of Life
• Public SAFETY
- Implement Civilian oversight of RCMP
• Expand parks and trails systems to facilitate healthy lifestyles
• Support community groups who provide services for senior and disadvantaged residents
• Review Photo Enforcement to improve public safety
Council ACCOUNTABILITY and Transparency
• Improve disclosure of Council deliberations, such as;
- ‘Web-access’ of a clear record of Council motions and individual votes
- Agenda packages available to the public earlier
- Improve Councillor/Committee reporting requirement
If you wish to share any concerns, or you can help with my campaign, please contact me at: email: email@example.com (Donate by e-transfer to this email)
twitter - @allan_bohachyk
Facebook - Allan Bohachyk St Albert
Website - allanbohachyk.ca
If you wish to host one of my signs on your front lawn, please drop me a note, with first name, email address (or phone) and house address. I'd be happy to deliver it immediately after Sept 18!
St Albert’s Unenforceable (or Unenforced?) Bylaws
This topic comes up more often that one might think, and in several iterations. It is on the minds of some of our residents, and may be recognized by others once disclosed. I agree with these residents that the topic is worth discussing.
Part of what must be considered is the true ability of the ‘system’ to enforce bylaws that don’t seem to be accepted by a large number of residents or those that define objects when it’s really associated behaviours that should be regulated. Or those that are simply outdated or irrelevant given a changed environment.
Councillor Russell is on record as asking for a review of the idling bylaw, in part because of the limitations in the regulation that define ‘acceptable’ outdoor idling temperatures that are not reasonable for our climate.
I’d add to that review. Residents have noted that while we are asked not to idle unnecessarily, the City has defeated the value of this effort by obstructing the smooth flow of traffic along many of our roadways. 24 hour dedicated protected left turns along the St Albert Trail has resulted in many (23,000 average daily at the north end by Costco and 41,000 as the Trail leaves south SA) vehicles now idling for an extra 15-20 minutes each day. The unnecessary exhaust load in the heart of our City’s environment is seen to be a serious contradiction to the idling bylaw intent.
Other examples are traffic lights which are not coordinated to any obvious ‘smooth flow’ purpose, suggesting poor planning or absent efficiency reviews. This may fit very well into the suggestion that lights in ‘off hour’ lower traffic areas should transition to flashing red/yellow to allow for continued safe movement of traffic.
Situations where a change of light sequence or other structural adjustment can positively effect idling time are the easy fixes. However, there is concern by our residents that we have to make some cultural changes as well before we can confidently state that our idling practices are as environmentally effective as is possible.
Residents have pointed at ‘drive throughs’ as a culture that defeats idling bylaw efforts. Others have pointed to our schools where many parents pick up their children and wait in idling vehicles, during most of the school months. Neither example is really enforceable, or at least - not enforced - in spite of being in contravention of the intent of the bylaw.
Another example relates to the dog bylaw. Off leash areas are clearly designated and well signed, but the remaining areas (that do not support off-leash) are used routinely by owners who let their dogs run free.
Residents are weary of dog feces around playground equipment, dogs urinating (as is their habit) markers on any conceivable target, and the unknown of unleashed large dogs approaching small children. All this where there is an expectation of a safe, clean play environment for children.
If there is enforcement for such bylaw offences, our residents are not aware of it. If there is little enforcement, or it is unenforceable, does retention of the bylaw have merit?
The bylaw definition of an acceptable dog leash is another example raised.
Specifically, the rule is:
“13(1)The owner of a dog shall at all times, when the dog is off the property of the owner or off the property where the dog has right of occupation, have the dog:
(a) under complete control; and
(b) held on a leash not exceeding two (2) metres in length.”
Which begs several questions:
Why does almost every related retail outlet in St Albert have ‘expandable’ leashes for sale? We don’t wish to impose any unnecessary constraint on the retail outlets, but it causes confusion for those St Albert residents shopping for a leash.
Why is an ‘article’ illegal, when the responsibilities of the dog owner (the bylaw might more accurately say ‘handler’) are so clearly defined? Can a dog be only ‘under complete control’ with a non-expandable leash? How can a 2 meter leash be considered the only method of ensuring a safe and compliant dog? If a handler is not able control their dog, 2 meters is still a significant reach and risk distance, particularly on a sidewalk.
It would appear that removal of the ‘2 meter leash’ clause would not impact the responsibility of the dog owner/handler, can be considered an unnecessary ‘bylaw’ feature and would allow the lawful and responsible use of an expandable leash.
There may be many more examples of ‘unnecessary or unenforceable bylaws’. I’ll keep track of those raised by our residents, and if there is room to clean up these and/or other bylaw offences that deserve such scrutiny, I will bring them forward.
Clearly, in the scope of all things important in St Albert governance, these are not the highest priorities. However, for those negatively impacted by a lack of certain enforcement, these issues deserve some respectful dialogue.
St. Albert….We have a spending problem, and a revenue problem.
It is understood by many of our residents that if St Albert fully commits on all of the capital plans in place for the next 10 years, without fixing our revenue problem, our financial obligations will indeed look bleak; particularly for our children and grandchildren.
We have a higher dependency on residential taxes than most of our neighbours. Business and manufacturing seem to avoid St Albert in favour of the other regional communities. As a result, our business tax base is lesser by comparison.
It’s tempting to look to Fort Saskatchewan or Sherwood Park as comparables, but we must acknowledge that they enjoy a different tax structure because of petroleum based industries that populate their locals. St Albert certainly cannot compete with that industry base, and cannot say - ‘we should operate just like they do’.
However, many other municipalities are doing well - industry and business wise. Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and others, who do not generally reap taxes from the petroleum industry, are still booming with new business. Land development between the two western hi-ways is in a state of almost continuous growth. Edmonton is not a fair comparator, but nonetheless has enjoyed significant industry growth. Why is that?
If you talk to folks in our community who have direct knowledge about the answer to this question (business owners or those who have tried to build in St Albert), the evidence seems quite clear. St Albert is not business friendly. Specifically, the obstructionist nature of our City policies and practices, often directed at those securing a business development plan, is more difficult than in other municipalities. I am told there are many more complex ‘hoops’ to jump through. That applications to ‘adjust’ or ‘redevelop’ a business are met with resistance. The folks I have spoken to are not surprised that industry would sooner select a business friendly local. They point at the evidence of industrial growth everywhere else but here.
I’m in no position to debate this with them because I don’t have a business background. I trust they are sincere in their understanding and beliefs, and their conclusions make abundant sense to me. They have little to gain by sharing this with me because we don’t discuss names or details.
I am convinced they are the residents we must listen to, to gain a well rounded perspective of the realities.
I’m prepared to listen. And, I’m prepared to investigate. And, I’m not afraid to suggest and support change.
This matter must be reviewed very carefully. Perhaps it can be one of the first tasks of our new internal auditor. Maybe a new council can push this agenda. I would be glad to carry this issue forward. We must ensure we deal with this matter quickly. Obviously, there is a lag time between changing the business structure and enjoying the results. Sooner is better.
The risk of not doing anything is that our residential taxes will remain at a higher ratio than necessary. Major projects that we want to consider will always be funded on the backs of our residents. Seniors will be (and are now actively) forced to consider moving out of homes they have lived in for 30 or more years. Younger families will balk at selecting St Albert because of the taxes. And, we will be mulling this over again, year after year.