Small Town St. Albert
How do we keep our small town charm in an ever progressive and changing environment?
We hear it a lot…. One of the best things about St. Albert is that it’s small enough to know your neighbor but large enough that we don’t have to run into Edmonton for our every day needs.
For me, the small town feel is synonymous with quality of life. The quality of life is second to none, that’s why St. Albert is recognized as the best place in Canada to live by Money Sense Magazine. I’m really proud to live here because a community spirit exists that I haven’t seen anywhere else. It draws you in.
Indeed, quality of life in St. Albert didn’t happen by accident, all you have to do is go back to the beginning. Our roots in St. Albert stem directly from a strong pioneer spirit over 150 years ago. Health and education, living off the land, building community, that’s how it happened over on the hill.
St. Albert is now at 72,000 and some would say it’s a perfect size, not too small, not too large. Our growth has been manageable and steady. Since moving here in 1995, it’s been exciting to see the landscape of the city change and grow and yet all the while, the small town feel remains the same. That comes down to people.
St. Albert will continue to grow – and from my perspective that’s critical! It needs to grow in order to stay competitive and autonomous, otherwise we risk getting swallowed up by those growing around us. How we manage growth, protect our assets and maintain that friendly small town feel is the balance we must achieve going forward.
How will the next 20, 30, 40 years look for St. Albert as we continue to grow? What should be maintained and what needs to change and evolve?
Here is what some residents are telling me……
- Focus on supporting business and be make it easy for new business start ups to set up shop – promote buying local
- Twin Ray Gibbon Drive not just because of traffic congestion, but to invite business opportunities to the west side of the city
- Create enough housing options to meet people where they’re at.
- Transportation, get the LRT built
- Look after our seniors. We owe it to them to provide a comfortable, affordable place to live that supports them at all phases of senior life.
- Continue to provide programs that foster education, innovation, arts, culture and sports for all ages.
- Park and Ride – please hurry up with this so that our university students can get to school without a hassle (number one issue for 20-25 year olds).
- Consider the social needs of all our citizens and recognize that at any given time 1 in 5 people are suffering from mental health issues. Recognize that domestic violence and homelessness is on the rise, and that people from all parts of St. Albert use the food bank.
- Support our environment – protect our natural spaces and waterway, eat local food, encourage local quality food sources (yes that even means support pilot programs like chicken coops and raising bees).
- Resource our first responders so that we remain safe and secure at school, home and work.
- Think outside the box when it comes to funding projects
- Be leaders in innovation, stick with the Smart City approach
- Traffic issues – where to start
At the end of the day, I heard people say:
Be forward thinking. Promote a culture of strong volunteerism and community spirit. Collaborate with neighbors, don’t infight. Decisions made today will affect our future 20, 30 40 years down the road. Respond to current and emerging needs of the city in a measured, thoughtful way. The new city council must make governance decisions with due care, weighing the pros and cons and by listening to all perspectives.
How to protect St. Albert’s small town feel? Keep the passion for the city alive. Listen to one another, learn from one another and have an open mind.