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?
NJ: NO ANSWER
T8N: What will be the first item that you plan to bring forward for council debate immediately after the election?
NJ: I will bring forward a motion to have Internal Audit report directly to the City Manager.
T8N: What governance or policy change that council operates under today needs to be changed immediately?
NJ: Under current policy, Internal Audit reports directly to City Council; This reporting relationship must be updated to ensure that Council is focusing on governance, and the City Manager is responsible for the realization of Council direction. The purpose of Internal Audit is to provide advice and recommendations to ensure that appropriate process controls are in place and that risk is recognized and mitigated; these are administrative details that must be carried out by administration through the City Manager, not through governance direction from Council.
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?
NJ: Libraries are community hubs and they become more important as real connection is eroded by the digital nature of modern communication. Programs offered through the library to encourage literacy, employment skills, and reduce isolation for all residents are vital for maintaining and building a vibrant and safe community.
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?
NJ: Council is responsible for governance, and the City Manager is responsible for administration. Councillors are not responsible for directing or managing front-line staff, and it is imperative that we recognize this separation to ensure that staff have confidence that their autonomy is respected.
T8N: What can and should be done to ensure the continued viability of St. Albert’s downtown Perron Street District?
NJ: Supporting businesses, providing opportunities for investment, and celebrating the opportunities in our core will ensure that the Perron District continues to be the hub of our community.
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?
NJ: Consistency of speed limits in residential is required. Currently, residents are dealing with multiple speed changes in residential areas – 30, 40, and 50km/h – and the absence of standard speeds not only causes confusion, but requires the placement and maintenance of an excessive number of signs on our residential roadways. If a 40km/h residential speed limit addressed concerns around safety, consistency, and quality of life, I would support this change. I also look forward to seeing the results of Edmonton’s recent decision to change some residential speeds to 40km/h.
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?
NJ: Yes, I look forward to working with regional partners to explore this option through the newly created Regional Transit Services Commission.
T8N: What is your position on the extension of a regionally financed LRT system from downtown Edmonton to St. Albert?
NJ: NO ANSWER
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?
NJ: NO ANSWER
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?
NJ: Yes, I am interested in considering all partnerships.
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?
NJ: No, the character of St. Albert is worth preserving.
T8N: What is your vision for St. Albert’s role in the Capital Regional District?
NJ: Our success over the next term will be established through the leadership we demonstrate throughout the region.
For example, St. Albert cannot reasonably complete the twinning of Ray Gibbon Drive on our own without placing a tremendous tax burden on residents. As your councillor, I will make it a priority to develop strong relationships with crucial stakeholders and communities to our north to join together in advocacy for this expansion.
Questions provided by Tim Osborne (edited by T8N)
T8N: What do you believe is the role of a councilor?
NJ: The role of a councillor is to build relationships – with residents, with business, with community and regional partners, with subject-matter experts, and with each other – to provide sound governance direction for the city. Councillors are our spokespeople, and they are generalists that must consider and seek out information to make responsible decisions. Councillors are community leaders who must show their support for the community by celebrating our successes, championing our causes, and building for our future.
T8N: How would you address the balance between doing what may be in the best interest of the community despite the act being unpopular?
NJ: I will always promise to be honest, transparent, and genuine in my decision-making. The city’s Mission is to “represent the residents of St. Albert, make decisions in the best interests of the entire community and ensure the corporation delivers results that will help sustain a high quality of life for St. Albertans.” Sometimes the right decisions aren’t going to be the most popular ones. Ultimately, Council is expected to read long backgrounders when considering decisions. And Council has access to information that isn’t available publicly – land sale information & business interest for example – so we will be able to make decisions based on information that the public doesn’t have.
T8N: Is there a role for third party or anonymous advertising / communication in municipal elections? Explain.
NJ: Third-party advertising is a valuable tool for passionate residents to work together to ensure their message is heard; I welcome respectful and factual communication from residents interested in driving change in our community.
T8N: What is your vision for increasing the housing options in our community?
NJ: My vision is for housing includes supporting responsible mixed-use developments, like the one approved by the current Council in the spring of 2017. I envision vibrant, walkable communities, with access to diverse retail businesses. I will work with residents, developers, and business to ensure that our housing needs are met through safe, sustainable, and diverse options that fit the character of St. Albert.
T8N: What would be your reasons for / against switching to a ward system in St.Albert?
NJ: NO ANSWER
T8N: Are there any actions / directives / projects undertaken by the previous council that you would like to stop / undo / dramatically change? Why?
NJ: The next council is facing a decision about whether to reinstate the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC). The MPC is opposed by Administration, The Chamber of Commerce, and local business. It was also terminated by a previous City Council to improve business relationships and reduce processing times.
Reinstating the MPC would send the message that St. Albert is unfriendly to business, and would erode the progress we’ve made over the last decade to diversify our commercial base.
Having a community that is supportive of business is vital to reduce the residential tax burden. St. Albert has slowly become more welcoming, and our residential-commercial tax split is slowly moving towards our 80/20 goal; we must continue supporting and developing our business community.
To read the responses of the other councilors, click below:
Sandyne Beach-McCutcheon http://www.t8nmagazine.com/sandyne-survey/
Nester Andrew Petriw http://www.t8nmagazine.com/nester-questionnaire/