The last council meeting provided a vivid example of why taxes in St. Albert are so outlandish. Council member MacKay introduced a motion to delay the expenditure of $500,000.00 on a LRT alignment study intended to extend the non-existent Edmonton L.R.T. leg across St. Albert until a feasibility study was FIRST completed.
MacKay's position was simple and straight forward. Since Guy Boston had originally said that an LRT line across St. Albert was not economically feasible at this time, a full feasibility study (costing $75,000) should first establish that it is a feasible project before Council starts spending money to choose a route. (costing $500,000) As is his style, MacKay buttressed this argument with facts, figures, and verification that neither the Province or the Federal Government had any interest in providing grants for an LRT across a small city of 62,000 people. After all, the City of Edmonton is having trouble finding money for their LRT and unless St. Albert taxes were increased by about $3000.00 per year we couldn't afford this billion dollar project to handle about 2500 commuters. Basically his position was this:
1.. St. Albert should support the Edmonton leg of the LRT running to St. Albert's south boundary because this will be beneficial to St. Albert, and
2. An extension of this Edmonton LRT through St. Albert should not receive tax dollars until it is shown to be a feasible project .... i.e. When the population of St. Albert justifies spending 150 million per kilometre or over 1 billion dollars in this case.
Broadhead, (the former City of Edmonton transit employee) was singularly inept in providing a counter argument. Rather than deal with MacKay's numerous arguments head on, he chose to attempt to confuse a feasibility study with a route alignment study and suggested this alignment study would establish the feasibility. Elementary logic dictates that you FIRST determine whether a railway line is feasible before you start picking a route for that railroad line. However, it is an old bureaucratic trick to get money invested into a project so that later, when it turns out to be ill advised, you can argue that it is now too late to reverse directions. This, it appears, seems to have been Broadhead's tactic, since he failed to address the many arguments raised by MacKay that the project, at this time, was premature.
Council members Crouse, Heron, and Prefontaine seemed to agree with this tactic as they themselves never put forward any substantive counter arguments. They voted with Broadhead to defeat MacKay's motion.
Consequently, the City is going to spend a half a million tax dollars to create a study which will sit on the shelf for the next 50 years. If and when the population of St. Albert is large enough to justify an LRT across the breadth of St. Albert, a new site allocation study will have to be performed to deal with changed circumstances. Its unfortunate that councillor Parker (who voted against the original alignment study), or candidates, Russell, Durham, or Goldsmith were not elected to inject some common sense into the equation.