Questions provided by Nolan Crouse (edited by T8N)
T8N: If you were to change one thing specific to the City of St. Albert itself, what would that be? And if you were to change one thing within the community itself, what would that be?
NP: I like the City of St. Albert pretty well the way it is. It retains a comfortable small-town feeling while offering an enriched community for its residents – with an emphasis on green spaces together with superior recreational and cultural opportunities.
As far as the functioning of local government is concerned, I would like to see City Council operate as a respectful entity, in which its Councilors and Mayor govern themselves with the goal of serving the best interests of the whole community rather than distracting Council’s work with personal conflicts.
T8N: What will be the first item that you plan to bring forward for council debate immediately after the election?
NP: I think that the plebiscite needs to be addressed. Once the results are known, there will be a need to set some priorities on how those issues will be dealt with.
T8N: What governance or policy change that council operates under today needs to be changed immediately?
NP: Some process needs to be introduced to help Council to conduct itself civilly and to stay focused on its job. This includes some mechanism for ensuring that Council members conduct themselves in an ethical manner. That includes the conduct of the Mayor, insofar as the Mayor must be the true spokesperson for the “official” views of Council.
So, perhaps a code of conduct or code of ethics needs to be adopted for Council. At the very least, the Mayor and Councilors must understand and be true to their duties under the Municipal Government Act.
Questions provided by David Climenhaga (edited by T8N)
T8N: Never mind the question of a branch library or the location of services. What is your view of the long-term viability of library services in our community? Are you prepared to continue funding library services at a level that permits the continuation of present levels of service while accounting for increases in population?
NP: As stewards of the City of St. Albert, Council has an obligation to plan for the future needs of a growing population.
This is an issue that has been around for several years and should have had reserve funds set aside going back to the 2016 budget (here I’m speaking of the Financial Reserves Policy C-FS-01). There appears to have been a recent (2017) deviation from Council’s own policy which appears to have contributed to the current concern about the now under-funded branch library and new fire station.
T8N: Alberta law requires a legal separation between city councillors and city employees: Employees report to the city manager; the city manager reports to council. What is your view of the proper working relationship between front-line employees and city councillors?
NP: The proper understanding of this relationship is set out in the City’s enabling legislation, the Municipal Government Act, s.153(d).
Councilors have a statutory duty “s. 153 (d) to obtain information about the operation or administration of the municipality from the chief administrative officer…” (in the City’s case, the City Manager) or his delegate. This is a legal obligation and Council is obligated to comply.
T8N: What can and should be done to ensure the continued viability of St. Albert’s downtown Perron Street District?
NP: In my view, occasionally closing off the core to vehicle traffic and encouraging pedestrian-only access (in the context of a civic holiday) is likely to contribute to residents getting to know the businesses in the Perron Street District (I’ve seen it at work in Kiev and it can create an amazing vibe).
T8N: Never mind the sequencing of traffic lights on St. Albert Trail. Where do you stand on the calls by some residents for a 40 kilometre-per-hour speed limit in residential neighbourhoods?
NP: I am in favour of 50 and 60 kmh general speed limits with reduced speeds in school zones. Having reduced speeds without enforcement would be pointless. It would be better to have enhanced enforcement for those few residents who insist on using residential streets as places to see how fast their cars can go.
T8N: There are many savings and benefits that could be realized by being part of a regional transit system. Are you prepared to work toward the participation or inclusion of St. Albert Transit in a regional transit system?
T8N: What is your position on the extension of a regionally financed LRT system from downtown Edmonton to St. Albert?
NP: I am in favour, subject to adequate funding being available.
T8N: There are many savings and benefits that could be realized by being part of a regional policing system. Are you prepared to work toward the creation of a Capital Region Police Force in which St. Albert would participate?
NP: I would support the creation of a Capital Region Police Force as long as it would result in improved policing without increasing the cost to St. Albert taxpayers.
T8N: As St. Albert grows, it is coming under pressure for increased recreation facilities, including additional ice sheets and swimming pools. Would you as councillor be prepared to work to create joint public projects for the development of recreational facilities involving any or all of the County of Parkland, Town of Morinville, County of Sturgeon and City of Edmonton?
NP: Being a “Good Neighbour” calls for municipalities to cooperate with their regional partners in creating services for the mutual benefit of our residents. Currently, St. Albert’s recreational facilities are used by people who don’t live in the City of St. Albert. It follows that the City must address this reality in how it charges for such services.
T8N: St. Albert citizens complain constantly about the cost of operating a city the size of St. Albert, including the costs of duplication of services and the heavy reliance of the municipal tax base on residential properties instead of businesses. If substantial tax savings for residents could be shown, are there circumstances in which you would agree to or support amalgamation of St. Albert with the city of Edmonton?
NP: I do not support amalgamating the City of St. Albert with the City of Edmonton. Residents in St. Albert enjoy services and a lifestyle that is second to none. Naturally, this comes with a cost which can be recouped through user fees (where appropriate) and taxes to make up the difference.
T8N: Parking at St. Albert Place and in the downtown district continues to be a problem for the city. What is your preferred solution to this situation: Leave it alone? Build a parkade? Paid street parking? Other?
NP: Parking is an ongoing challenge wherever you go. In those locations where parking is insufficient, paid on-street parking is an effective mechanism for recouping the cost.
T8N: What is your vision for St. Albert’s role in the Capital Regional District?
NP: I see St. Albert as being a leader in the Capital Regional District.
Questions provided by Tim Osborne (edited by T8N)
T8N: What do you believe is the role of a councilor?
NP: The role of a councilor is established by section 153 of the Municipal Government Act. In short, councilors are stewards of the City. They have a statutory duty to consider the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole and to bring to Council’s attention anything that would promote the welfare or interests of the municipality. That includes participating in council and committee meetings and to obtain information about municipal operations from the City Manager.
Councilors are not “free agents” and they must not be in the pockets of developers of other corporate entities for their own financial benefit.
T8N: How would you address the balance between doing what may be in the best interest of the community despite the act being unpopular?
NP: Council shouldn’t operate as a “tyranny of the majority”. As a steward of the city, decisions must be made in the long-term best interests of the city, Some decisions are bound to be unpopular.
T8N: Is there a role for third party or anonymous advertising / communication in municipal elections? Explain.
NP: Anonymous advertising is a regrettable part of public life. Some people are clearly afraid to stand up to public scrutiny, so they act in the proverbial shadows.
T8N: What is your vision for increasing the housing options in our community?
NP: NO ANSWER
T8N Magazine Questions
T8N: What would be your reasons for / against switching to a ward system in St.Albert?
NP: Good question.
I’m inclined to opposed to a ward system given the relatively small population of the City.
On the other hand, smaller wards would make it easier for voters to get to know their candidates.
T8N: Are there any actions / directives / projects undertaken by the previous council that you would like to stop / undo / dramatically change? Why?
NP: I would like to take a closer look at Council’s apparent contravention of its own Financial Reserves Policy C-FS-01, which appears to have set the stage for the current issues with the underfunded branch library and new fire hall.
Click below to read the responses from the other council candidates:
Sandyne Beach-McCutcheon http://www.t8nmagazine.com/sandyne-survey/
Nester Andrew Petriw http://www.t8nmagazine.com/nester-questionnaire/