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?
WB: City of St. Albert – Increase funding for youth supports. The Collective needs additional resources to serve youth within our community that are in deep distress. That we, as a city with the resources we have, underfund this program is a travesty.
Community of St. Albert – Advance the ork on Millenium Park. The downtown of St. Albert is a wonderfully eclectic place that suffers from a lack of activity. The park would not only enhance the river valley adjacent to City Hall but also bring people into the downtown core.
T8N: What will be the first item that you plan to bring forward for council debate immediately after the election?
WB: The cost associated with completing the access from 137 avenue to Anthony Henday Drive. The intent to provide an althernate access to and from Anthony Henday into St. Albert
T8N: What governance or policy change that council operates under today needs to be changed immediately?
WB: I’d bring forward a motion to amend the Council procedure bylaw to define the debate procedure to ensure that the Mayor (or Deputy if the Mayor is moving the motion) is the last to speak prior to the mover of the motion closing debate. This prevents the jockeying of Councillors to try to be the last to speak to the detriment of the debate process.
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?
WB: The modern library is much more than a stack of books to peruse but is rather a community gathering space where residents are able to access services that may not be available elsewhere. Examples would be financial and computer literacy programming, genealogical research providing internet access to those without. These in addition to the traditional library services of educational research and study activities.
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?
WB: The proper relationship between Council and city administration is first to remember that Council fulfills a governance role in the community not a managerial or administrative role. Council should always direct questions related to civic operations or administration to the City Manager and then hold them responsible for resolution to the issue at hand.
T8N: What can and should be done to ensure the continued viability of St. Albert’s downtown Perron Street District?
WB: Work to complete the curb work on Perron to facilitate making the roadway much more pedestrian friendly. Continue the work of enhancing the downtown “streetscape” to make the area aesthetically pleasing. Complete Millenium Park to provide an “additional draw” into the downtown area. Work on finding additional parking spaces within the Perron district.
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?
WB: This needs to be assessed for its overall impact on the community as a whole. The change may be appropriate is some areas but only impose an artificially low limit in others. The need for the speed reduction must be apparent to all the residents otherwise the imposition of the lower speed limit would be setting residents up for failure and more angst over increased photo radar inforcement.
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?
WB: Absolutely. The long term implications for St. Albert and the region are significant. Success in this area paves the way for other regional service delivery options to be explored.
T8N: What is your position on the extension of a regionally financed LRT system from downtown Edmonton to St. Albert?
WB: The provision of rapid public transit in whatever form will benefit St. Albert whenever it arrives. Realistically, the arrival of LRT to St. Albert is not for 20 years at which point the population of our City will be at least 85,000. At that time, methods of moving large numbers of people quickly in and out of St. Albert will be required.
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?
WB: Within the confines of the current contract with the RCMP, I would be more than willing to examine the implications of moving to a regional policing model.
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?
WB: St. Albert needs to move on providing the facilities needed within the community but must examine more service provision models than the traditional wholly owned and operated by the City model. Joint construction and operating agreements with non-profit organizations and inter-municipal joint ventures need to all be explored.
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?
WB: I am firmly convinced that the City of St. Albert can work productively within the region to minimize the costs of service provision without losing its identity as a unique municipality. The are many regions that successfully work collaboratively without amalgamating into a single monolithic municipality. St. Albert needs to maintain its own identity to honour our history and the desires of our citizens to build the city they desire.
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?
WB: The long term plan for parking in the downtown area will require the addition of significant number of parking stalls. The long term plan for this will need to be incorporated within the overall downtown restructuring plan and likely include a parade of some magnitude. However, I believe short term measures to add a few parking stalls exist which when coupled with a free parking time reduction from two hours to one will increase the turnover of use thereby maximizing use of existing stalls.
T8N: What is your vision for St. Albert’s role in the Capital Regional District?
WB: St. Albert is a city of highly talented citizens which have the capacity to bring great value to the region. St. Albert, by virtue of the City that has been built and the consistently high rankings as a desirable community in which to live, punches well above its weight in regional governance discussions. St. Albert should step in aggressively to lead collaboratively with other municipalities withing the region. To quote an old saying – the world is run by those who show up!. St. Albert needs to show up!
Questions provided by Tim Osborne (edited by T8N)
T8N: What do you believe is the role of a councilor?
WB: To be a member of the elected governance board for the City of St. Albert. The role of the Councillor is defined in the Municipal Government Act, but I believe Councillors need to work hard to build the community that is in the best interests of all residents. To do so, Councillors need to listen to all residents on issues but then work to understand the implications of all viable courses of action and then make the decision that they believe best represents the needs of the community as a whole. They need to do this even if it’s unpopular with some segments of the community.
T8N: How would you address the balance between doing what may be in the best interest of the community despite the act being unpopular?
WB: As described in the previous answer, the role of a Councillor is to assess all options when considering a decision affecting the City. The Councillor must listen to feedback from resident – all of them – and then review the decision options, the various impacts on the community and then make a decision. Sometimes, this includes making unpopular decisions.
T8N: Is there a role for third party or anonymous advertising / communication in municipal elections? Explain.
WB: I have less problem with third party advertising than I do with anonymous advertising. My bottom line is that the total cost of campaigning needs to be reported. Third party advertising can not be a mechanism to avoid campaign spending limits or reporting requirements. Transparency in government is a big buzz word in politics today. Third party advertising is anything but transparent. Anonymous advertising, in my estimation, just allows for spiteful and questionable information to be disseminated without fear of being held accountable. If someone has something to say, they should have the courage to stand up and be accountable for their conduct.
T8N: What is your vision for increasing the housing options in our community?
WB: New and innovative housing build styles need to be allowed into our community. The reliance on the single family buildform has made our community unaffordable to many in society, most prominently the young and old. New row-housing developments are now being proposed that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing and St. Albert needs to review what changes are required to allow these sorts of buildform to exist in our community. We do however need to defend, as appropriate, those engineering standards that have made our City great. Modifications in our land use bylaw however need to be considered.
T8N Magazine Questions
T8N: What would be your reasons for / against switching to a ward system in St.Albert?
WB: While it would certainly make campaigning easier to have a ward system in our community, I don’t believe our City has reached the population threshold yet that demands the change. With the inclusion of a ward system, the introduction of the interests of one community being played off against another is possible. I maintain that the interests of the whole city should be the responsibility of each councillor
T8N: Are there any actions / directives / projects undertaken by the previous council that you would like to stop / undo / dramatically change? Why?
WB: I believe our strategic planning process definitely needs to be strengthened. To be effective and efficient in preparing St. Albert for the future, the strategic plan and the budget cycle need to come into alignment. Too often, Council goes on a strategic planning retreat and then makes statements about goals and objectives which are completely ignored during the year and particularly during budget deliberations. The budget as proposed should never be a surprise to Council and Council members should never measure personal success by how many changes they can introduce during the budget debate. If a Councillor feels strongly about something, it is imperative that they raise it during the strategic plan development stage.
To see the responses of the other participating council candidates, click here:
Sandyne Beach-McCutcheon http://www.t8nmagazine.com/sandyne-survey/
Nester Andrew Petriw http://www.t8nmagazine.com/nester-questionnaire/