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?
MK: I believe the land use bylaw needs to be an area that should be addressed rather quickly. It’s been in discussions for the past while, and may help some of the current pressing needs/ concerns of residents. Such as the urban sprawl, affordable housing concerns, potential Braeside development, too many large/expensive communities, etc. We need to start moving forward on issues related to the city, and looking toward the future instead of debating the past.
T8N: What will be the first item that you plan to bring forward for council debate immediately after the election?
MK: If there was an issue that received a large percentage of a “yes” or “no” vote in the plebiscite, then I feel council should take a hard look at the issue. Otherwise, I would refer to the first question, as the land use bylaw clarifications.
T8N: What governance or policy change that council operates under today needs to be changed immediately?
MK: After the current report that came out, it’s clear that many things need to be looked at and adjusted. However, for the 2 hours given to complete this survey, I honestly do not have anything that comes directly to mind.
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 continuation of present levels of service while accounting for increases in population?
MK: I think almost all services need to expand at some point as a city continues to grow. It’s a matter of finding out what growth is appropriate, and needed within the city. As well, looking into the sustainability plan if the library was to grow. Is it just about books, or do they have a larger plan to incorporate the technology and services more and more of us are using. I think many of us have a view that a library is just about books.
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?
MK: I believe this issue is of utmost importance, and something that gets routinely overlooked. Any employee needs to have a belief in what they are doing is right, and for the betterment of whatever they are doing it for. They need to be held accountable, but also involved as to why many decisions are going on. I believe if we better improve the lines of communication, we can avoid many of the issues sports associations, other organizations and residents feel they have with city employees. As well, the issues that many city employees have in regards to dealing with council members. The goal should be to avoid the combative nature, and foster a more inclusive and accessible process.
T8N: What can and should be done to ensure the continued viability of St. Albert’s downtown Perron Street District?
MK: That area has many of our locally owned and operated business, which have grassroots in the area. It’s an area many of us are proud of, and shop regularly to help in the area. Increasing the parking area down there would help, or at least staying with one decision. I like the ideas of the many activities the city hosts down in the area, as it helps make residents aware that there are more than just the businesses on the main road.
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?
MK: Anyone that lives around a school zone knows it’s terrible during pickup and drop off times. At that time, the speed limit is only 30km/hr, and still causing close calls. I think it should be looked at to see if this would improve overall traffic safety. It’s easy to say that a car going 40 has much less damage potential to people/structures than a car going 50. But would it cause more confusion having zones of 30-40-50-60 in our community? There needs to be some sort of consistency throughout the community.
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?
MK: Absolutely yes. I believe the current progress made by a few councillors and our current mayor is a step in the right direction.
T8N: What is your position on the extension of a regionally financed LRT system from downtown Edmonton to St. Albert?
MK: Growing up here my entire life, I’ve always heard about an LRT line. I would like to look into the feasibility of this coming to our area. Many residents already face a shortage of parking in Edmonton, regularly crowed busses to get where they need to go, and a complete gouging in terms of parking prices. I think a line would also help some Edmonton residents reach out to St. Albert businesses. For some reason, people still think we are far away, even though the Henday makes everything a short trip. However, it needs to be affordable for the city, and not come at a large tax burden. A laetnerhsip and close relationship with the province and City of Edmonton is needed. I hope that the current progress a few councillors and our mayor recently made regarding improving the transit partnership with Edmonton, will help to open up more dialogue on the issue.
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?
MK: I would be prepared to look into this, to see if it’s viable for our city. Just saying here that there area “many savings and benefits” doesn’t tell me anything. Who runs the program? How does this affect the number of officers we have now to when it gets implemented? Does this force us to go to Edmonton instead of our local facilities to fight such things as tickets? Plus many other questions. It’s a worthwhile idea to explore, if the options are right for the Community of St.Albert.
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?As a current board member of our local hockey association, I’m aware of the need for an ice surface. I’m a
MK: As a current board member of our local hockey association, I’m aware of the need for an ice surface. I’m a non parent volunteer on the board. I’ve met with many local sports organizations, and am continuing to do so. While working with the other municipalities sounds great, we then need to share everything we have with them. If for example we build a new ice sheet on partnered land, that may only fill a quarter of our current needs. As we would be sharing it amongst many user groups, which creates another need for us to build more, while not actually solving the current issue.
While we look at it as possibly saving money, it may end up balancing out if we take into account our personal time spent driving outside St.Albert, the extra wear and tear on our cars, as well as the increased gas cost. So while it may save us a few dollars on our tax bills, would it cost us more in other bills?
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?We are
MK: We are a long ways away from being amalgamated by Edmonton. If they were to grab us, they would need to provide us the same sorts of services they currently provide their residents. As well, we would need to show that we provide a large benefit to them to take us. In my opinion, I don’t think we look like a viable option to them. And I would strongly have to question, again, our overall benefits and other costs we would incur. We can’t just focus on one bill, as it’s only one of many bills our residents currently have in their households. I also have a lot of pride in our city, a feel strongly about our name and what’s associated with St.Albert.
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?
MK: I’m not a huge fan of the paid steeet parking, as it would look like another way we are being “taxed”. I think it would deter parking in the area, which would negatively affect the businesses. I like the idea of looking into a parkade option. As long as it doesn’t come at too high a cost, infringe on the local businesses, or hinder the activities along the roads near St. Albert Place. I think more parking would help the sustainability of the The Perron Street District.
T8N: What is your vision for St. Albert’s role in the Capital Regional District?
MK: We are a strong community, that is on the leading edge of many categories in the arts, sports, safety, green space and more. We need to continue to be a leader and take the lead in many areas. Our residents provide a lot to the surrounding communities, and will continue to as our city grows. We need to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. Once you are on top, as we are many times in comparison to the rest of the region, communities will look to pass us. We need to continue to work with and partner with other communities, as it will only help us grow. It will help provide our citizens the way of life they are striving and working daily for.
Questions provided by Tim Osborne (edited by T8N)
T8N: What do you believe is the role of a councilor?
MK: The role of the councilor is to be accountable to the people and the city. We are elected to serve the city as a whole, not one specific group. At times you will need to make unpopular decisions. However, you need to look at what’s best for the city and it’s residents. You need to be available and approachable to everyone, and be open to thoughtful discussions and criticisms. Any voice that wants to be heard, should be given the chance to be heard.
T8N: How would you address the balance between doing what may be in the best interest of the community despite the act being unpopular?
MK: Councilors are there to look at what’s best for the city as a whole. In my opinion, once you’re voted in, you’re there to do what’s in the best interests of the community and it’s residents. It’s not a popularity contest, you won’t be able to please everyone. It’s about informing yourself on all the issues, then making a choice in what you believe is in the best interests of the community.
T8N: Is there a role for third party or anonymous advertising / communication in municipal elections? Explain.
MK: No. I believe if you have a say, or want to, put your name on it. Anyone can write anything down, but it loses it credibility without an author.
T8N: What is your vision for increasing the housing options in our community?
MK: That falls back to my thoughts in question 1. I believe we need more affordable housing, but we also need to keep it affordable for residents to continue to live in their own homes as they retire. As well as keeping those that move out of their parents homes in our community. We do that by watching our taxation & utility rates, available access to services if you do not drive, etc. We need to realize it’s not always about building more, but also keeping those who live here, here.
T8N Magazine Questions
T8N: What would be your reasons for / against switching to a ward system in St.Albert?
MK: It’s an interesting thought, however I don’t feel it’s a system that would benefit us by itself. I would rather look at expanding council, as it has been at 6 councilors for a while, yet our city has continually grown. If we expanded our councilors, that may necessitate a ward system. But I think we would be a few studies away to show the benefit to that system. Our city is a “15 minute drive to anywhere”. A councilor should make the time to attend events held in the different areas, as it’s not that far to go.
T8N: Are there any actions / directives / projects undertaken by the previous council that you would like to stop / undo / dramatically change? Why?
MK: None come to mind currently.
To read the responses of the other council candidates, click below.
Sandyne Beach-McCutcheon http://www.t8nmagazine.com/sandyne-survey/
Nester Andrew Petriw http://www.t8nmagazine.com/nester-questionnaire/