Head Honcho

This topic introduced by the host at the request of member Scarf:

Is Capital Regional Planning necessary or is it simply another layer of unelected officials which further erodes the ability of citizens to control their own municipalities and neighbourhoods?  I suggest it is the latter and raises the question as to why any thoughtful citizen of St. Albert would be promoting Regional Planning.


The argument for regional planning is that it is necessary to co-ordinate transportation systems and other projects which have an inter-municipal character.  What is overlooked is two facts, namely:

  1. we all ready have a level of government to co-ordinate inter-municipal activities ... its called the provincial government, and
  2. if a project is municipal in nature but has inter-municipal aspects, historically this inter-municipal dimension has been resolved through ad hoc negotiations and compromise between the municipal districts affected by the project.  Each municipality argued in the best interests of their community and middle ground was eventually achieved.

Since this has worked successfully in the past, the question arises as to why we need a Capital Region Planning Commission at this juncture in history.


The answer seems to be found in the changes which have occurred in the Municipal Government Act.  Historically municipal government was limited government with defined areas of jurisdiction which they administered and financed through a limited source of revenue ... namely property taxes.  Recently, this limited government concept has been largely eroded as municipalities have been given general spheres of jurisdiction ...environment, health, etc.  However, this expansion in jurisdiction was not matched with a corresponding increase in sources of revenue.  The primary source of municipal revenues remained property taxes and a rapid increase in property taxes was needed to cover the inevitable bureaucratic expansion to fill this expansion in jurisdiction.


This expansion of municipal jurisdiction resulted in the City of Edmonton undertaking the construction of an L.R.T. System.  This transportation system was justified, in part, as a regional transportation system.  If it was inter-municipal in nature, it seems it would have been logical for this massive project to have been a provincial matter.  If an L.R.T. System in Edmonton was justifiable from a provincial perspective, it could have been built and funded by the vast sources of revenue available to the Provincial Government.  If it was not justifiable from a provincial perspective, it logically meant the whole project was premature.  Either way the taxpayers of Edmonton would not have been confronted with finding the money to pay for a project which the accounting shows is costing about 100 million dollars per kilometer.


However, the L.R.T. became an Edmonton project and now Edmonton is looking to annex refinery row and other lands to feed the Leviathon.  The political structure to effect this annexation is Regional Planning.  Now government bureaucracy hates competition and the first thing that any bureaucracy of worth does is establish a monopoly over a sphere of activity.  Competition breeds efficiency and efficiency is not a thing  which characterizes government bureaucracies. Therefore, as the Capital City Regional Planning Commission grows, we can expect more and more planning decisions which affect your lives and neighbourhoods to fall into their exclusive jurisdiction.  The quality of life in your neighbourhood will be dictated by this remote unelected group of officials.  The ability to control the direction, growth, and vision for St. Albert will necessarily be dictated by powers outside and unanswerable to the residents of St. Albert.  It will not produce planning decisions which reflect the needs and aspirations of St. Albert residents as “regional considerations” will always prevail.  If that is what you want ..... go for it.


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Looking back in time... interesting how this has played out.
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Murray Lambert
I agree with 'AlbertaShank' as it is indeed most interesting that we now have a Alberta Municipal Affairs initiated and endorsed extra layer of governance holding sway over what are supposed to be autonomous municipal city councils.The Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Board (EMRB) is unelected by the citizens who comprise the member communities yet overriding policies are being forced upon us without the right of direct recourse. This is particularly apparent with regards to land usage with the push for higher densities. While I do agree with conserving valuable agricultural land I at the same time resent having it shoved down our throats particularly by the City of Edmonton and its mayor (Don Iveson ) who seems to revel in wielding the 'big stick'. All the while, the land planners and developers who are gleefully wallowing in the porcine excrement if you catch my drift!
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Murray Lambert
In reviewing some of the recent antics undertaken by our now not so new city council I have come to the conclusion that they have developed what I will call a "bunker mentality" in an attempt to fortify themselves from the public who elected them. First, it was the amendments to the Procedure Bylaw restricting citizens' relatively direct access to individual council members and council as a body via telephone, e-mail and/or presentations. More recently, they had the audacity to approve a salary increase for themselves during an in camera meeting thus avoiding any form of public input or comment. Also, they hold rather mysterious closed workshop sessions dealing with numerous policy matters such as FOIPS etc. of which minutes are apparently not taken. Of late, the video live streaming of council sessions and the resulting video archives have not occurred regardless of the fact that these are an essential part of the public record. So much for having 'open and transparent' municipal governance despite the fact that each and every current council member stressed these as planks of their election platforms during the last campaign. Unless such actions are bridled in the here and now I suspect even further entrenchment is yet to come
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