To read about the methodology of the questionnaire, click below:
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?
SK: NO ANSWER
T8N: What will be the first item that you plan to bring forward for council debate immediately after the election?
SK: I would like to immediately start a dialog to investigate spending. There were so many small project in the past four years that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars that the discussion could be called “who wants to make a millionaire?”
I am working diligently to educate people that increased spending does not correlate to increased taxes as many have previously suggested. I could go on all day with questionable expenses from $300,000 to mount a plane, $210,000 on a healing garden that a grant was provided to pay for, $130,000 to paint colorful crosswalks and invisible bricks on a bridge… having some common sense on council will save us so much money that building large projects in our 10-year plan might become feasible to the most frugal.
If there are any smaller projects like this that could be reduced or taken on with grant funding then I would chase those options.
T8N: What governance or policy change that council operates under today needs to be changed immediately?
SK: There are several policies that I would like to investigate further but the immediate one that strikes me as odd is the remuneration policy. I have tried to make sense of it as it currently stands, in the past revisions and the one coming into effect in October. Councilors who sit on committees are not allowed to be paid for board and committee meetings, even if elected officials from other municipalities are. The entire expense system needs to be reworked because when looking at a councilors expenses, you see reported claims for all these meetings but the money coming from the councilor to the city doesn’t seem to be reported anywhere. After four years of committee work, it would seem like a councilor was a huge drain with large expenses but thousands and thousands of dollars may have been paid to the city without any records.
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?
SK: With a family of nine children, we have used the library as much as anyone in this city and I am a huge advocate for the services it offers. I would like to see the library spend less on services that could be offered more effectively by other organizations. When the library hosts a program that a non-profit or community group could host, we incur huge costs due to the fact that only a unionized library employee may teach the course and we are restricted from collecting dues for the course based on the Library Act.
I believe existing funding could seriously increase the Library services without any expansion and even allow much needed advancements. As the city grows, we will absolutely need a second and third branch but I do not believe that we are there yet. The library board continues to propagate their personal agenda, outside of what I feel should be there mandate to manage and operate the library in the best interests of the city. Rather than work to make the current library keep up with the rest of the world, they focus on political campaigns. The constantly report that they have outgrown their facility since 1999 yet I haven’t seen a line up in 8 years.
I believe that the future of our city library services is bright. We can continue to promote the services and programs that the library does well and work toward a partnership with the city so that programs could be offered out in communities instead of only at the library. When expansion is needed, we could move forward with proposals that make sense like the city of Red Deer who has recently built two expansions into brand new high schools.
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?
SK: My view is that there should be a proper working relationship. If councilors do not act like the employees work for them, and city employees don’t act like they don’t have to assist the councilors, then they will work together like adults everywhere somehow manage. I am honestly stunned at the kind of problems I have heard of in the past and how they plagues our city.
T8N: What can and should be done to ensure the continued viability of St. Albert’s downtown Perron Street District?
SK: First and foremost we need to stop changing it so drastically. Within months we moved Perron street from 4 lanes with limited parking, to two lanes with excellent parking and then to two and a half lanes with limited parking. We need to come up with a plan and push it hard. It seems that there is no vision and that when there is, that vision is ignored in the development. Parking is going to continue to be a problem downtown unless we continue to develop concepts like the new traffic circle and pedestrian crosswalks as ways to deter people from visiting the downtown core. We should be promoting driving and walking equally in our downtown area as it is historic and gorgeous and the more people who visit it, the more people will continue to come as the years progress.
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?
SK: Reducing residential speed limits to 40 Km/h makes complete sense. I have never heard a single person speak against this idea. What I would like though, is to promote raising of speed limits on many of the arterial roads from St. Albert Trail to Grandin Road and several in between. I would also like to somehow promote common sense in the posting of speed limit signs so that we had less 50 Km/h zones like we have on Elliot Place where the 50Km/h zone starts 200m before the end of the cul de sac. I also will be championing converting most school zones to playground zones which will show that we care about the lives of our youth in the evenings and weekends and not only when they are in classes.
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?
SK: So long as the proposed system continues to maintain the commuter service we currently enjoy, I would be more than welcome to entertain the regional discussions.
T8N: What is your position on the extension of a regionally financed LRT system from downtown Edmonton to St. Albert?
SK: I would be very much in favor of this system so long as it was done properly. The last couple times that Edmonton expanded their system, they did it with little or no regard to automobile traffic or pedestrians.
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?
SK: Once again, so long as the service levels continue at the standard we currently enjoy, I would be willing to look at regional policing. It has many successful examples that we should be able to pull from.
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?
SK: Absolutely. I absolutely support some kind of a recreational facility and am not opposed to adding venues like an archery range, climbing wall, gymnastic studio, etc. Unlike many of my fellow candidates, who are talking zero tax increases, I am trying to educate as many residents as I can on the monstrous benefits of borrowing money when interest is so low. Large capital projects like this are almost costing nothing in interest and I am also working to educate people that increased spending does not correlate to increased taxes as the previous councils have suggested as we can save much money from how we have spent in the past. I will promote as much spending as I can for projects that meet two criteria:
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 on 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?
SK: Amalgamation discussions would require more than just tax savings. St. Albert has an identity, that includes a respect for nature among many other things, that I would fight to maintain before I could recommend discussions proceed.
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?
SK: I am not opposed to a parkade though I would like to see it build right with though of future needs, not just what is needed today. This might include outside the box thinking like building automated parking garages that house double the vehicles and require minimal human interaction to maintain.
T8N: What is your vision for St. Albert’s role in the Capital Regional District?
SK: I believe we have done great things in the past and we need to understand how important this concept is to all the communities and it needs to be nurtured into the future. We cannot exist with an isolationist policy or mindset.
Questions provided by Tim Osborne (edited by T8N)
T8N: What do you believe is the role of a councilor?
SK: To support the residents and city of St. Albert in management and facilitation of all legal, planning and financial decisions during our appointment by the majority of voters. We need to always be mindful of who we work for and who we answer to and always know that we are accountable and responsible for the decisions we make every step of the way.
T8N: How would you address the balance between doing what may be in the best interest of the community despite the act being unpopular?
SK: I could care less about being popular. I never have and never will. I will do what I believe is in the best interest of the city and the residents so long as it is in cooperative unity with the rest of the council and can be done without compromising my character, integrity, morals and can be accomplished in an ethically and fiscally responsible manner.
T8N: Is there a role for third party or anonymous advertising / communication in municipal elections? Explain.
SK: I believe so. I am not convinced I understand the question but if a third party wants to try to influence a municipal election that is there right to express their freedom of speech within the laws of our land.
T8N: What is your vision for increasing the housing options in our community?
SK: There is not enough time to discuss vision here except to say that we need to build a vision that benefits the community and currently it seems like we are not doing enough.
T8N Magazine Questions
T8N: What would be your reasons for / against switching to a ward system in St.Albert?
SK: I enjoy knowing that every councilor is responsible to me as a voter and I do not believe that we are large enough to warrant dividing the communities.
T8N: Are there any actions / directives / projects undertaken by the previous council that you would like to stop / undo / dramatically change? Why?
SK: I would like to immediately investigate everything that hasn’t progressed past a point where costs could be assessed because the previous council seemed to move forward with many projects without applying common sense to whether the project was needed or in the best interest of the city or its residents.
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/