St. Albert will continue to flourish, given our advantageous location, first-class amenities, and vibrant community. People want to live in our community.Wes Brodhead
St. Albert will continue to flourish, given our advantageous location, first-class amenities, and vibrant community. People want to live in our community. This has been true since the Mission was first established by Father Lacombe in 1861.
Civic growth requires a response in concert with current legislation, market forces, and community standards.
As St. Albert expands, it must conform to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region growth plan. The hard reality is all future development must comply with a density target of 40 du/nrh (dwelling units per net residential hectare), which will require a departure from a reliance on single-family detached housing. Row housing, low-rise apartment and mid-rise apartment dwellings will be incorporated into future area structure plans in order that a housing mix including some single-family dwelling is possible.
Market forces indicate that new and innovative build forms will become a reality in St. Albert. While the introduction of lane product housing and zero lot-line housing has occurred, St. Albert must be open to all housing options. I believe it is in embracing this diversity that St. Albert will continue to grow and remain affordable for new residents as well as residents who have made St. Albert home for several decades.
St. Albert’s engineering standards is a true measurement that sets us apart from our regional neighbours. These standards need to be defended irrespective of residential density targets or market forces. Our engineering standards prescribe sidewalks, trees, trails, buried power, cable/fibreoptic internet service, complete streets design, walkable communities. In essence, our engineering standards contribute directly to our quality of life. They are important and need to be defended.
We also need to embrace mixed-use development. This type of development is defined as:
“Mixed-use development is a type of urban development that blends residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or industrial uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated, and that provides pedestrian connections.”
St. Albert is in the early stages of mixed-use developments. This innovative style of urban growth has been tested and successfully introduced in many cities across Canada. The economic benefits of this build form are substantial. Studies indicate that there is a strong correlation between walkable communities, enhanced by mixed use developments, and their economic vitality. With the introduction of mixed used development, cities have experienced a resurgent interest in “downtown living” and the development of “town centres”. We have seen these developments start to take shape – Ville Giroux, Botanica, Jensen Crossing, Erin Ridge North are examples. St. Albert is a more vibrant community as a result.
Sustainable community growth must include a vigorous attention to the environment within which we live. It is right that St Albert is named “The Botanical Arts City.” We are determined to be a sustainable City dedicated to a green, ecologically friendly lifestyle. Most near and dear to our hearts are the green spaces, the river, the trees, and walkways that allow us to enjoy our natural surroundings. As St. Albert grows, it is imperative that we safeguard and preserve these environmental treasures for future generations. To this end, I would advocate for the completion of the Gray Nuns White Spruce Forest Park. The planning has been done, the next stage is to complete this work and provide for our community a gift of natural beauty that will be preserved for all generations.
Sustainable community growth also encompasses its roadway systems. Much has been said and written regarding the traffic congestion on St. Albert Trail and Ray Gibbon Drive. Clearly, without a strategic intervention in the road network serving St. Albert and communities to the north, congestion on the Trail and Ray Gibbon will increase.
Over the last four years, much has been done, yet more is needed.
Ray Gibbon Drive has been twinned from 137 Avenue to Leclair Way. This was a significant improvement reducing much of the congestion caused by traffic into the Starling community as well as heavy traffic into the Riel/South Riel business parks. Work on the next phase of twinning Ray Gibbon Drive is on-going with the roadway structures under construction from Leclair Way to McKenney Avenue. The completion of the bridge awaits winter, as approvals for construction across the environmentally sensitive Sturgeon River requires the river to be frozen to minimize any adverse impacts. The continuation of the Ray Gibbon Drive expansion is planned for the coming years and requires the City to hold Alberta Transportation to the terms of the agreement negotiated between the province and the city.
The introduction of Intelligent Traffic management systems along St. Albert Trail corridor has provided some relief to the congestion along this roadway. The completion of on-going work from Villeneuve Road north to Everitt Drive will immensely improve traffic backlogs north and southbound through the Walmart Centre to the Costco site.
Work still needs to be completed on implementing the Intelligent Traffic system on the Boudreau/Bellerose traffic corridor. While the intersection improvements at this intersection provide the capacity to move large volumes of traffic, the timing of the traffic light system needs to be managed by the ITS system. This needs to be introduced to this segment of St. Albert to realize the full benefit of the intersection improvements.
Sustainable growth for St. Albert is a massive goal for our community. Recently, the new Municipal Development Plan was completed with record-breaking community input into the final document. Named “Flourish”, the new plan will define how St. Albert will grow, in the next couple of decades, into a community of over 100,000 residents. “Flourish” is a great plan. Why? Because it reflects the collective will of St. Albertans.