St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron hopes to leave a legacy of collaboration from her first term as the mayor of St. Albert
On June 16, Heron gave her last State of the City Address as mayor to the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce at a virtual meeting, sharing the hope she has led a council that got along and disagreed respectfully.
“The unhealthy negativity has dissipated, making room for confidence and pride,” Heron said.
“From the very beginning, this council made a commitment to work together to support each other, and we have held that commitment for four years.”
Heron shared her virtual pre-recorded speech with each member of council instead of delivering the entire address herself.
Coun. Jacquie Hansen said, with no divisions on council, it isn’t possible to predict which way each vote is going to go.
“It has really improved the democratic process. It requires that members respect differences of opinion,” Hansen said.
“We have to attack issues and not each other, and we can focus more easily on our strategic priorities, which I think we've been pretty successful at.”
Heron said council has focused on their strategic plan – which they laid out over four years rather than annually – which includes a growth policy framework, economic-development strategy, building a transportation network, housing, and environmental stewardship.
To help guide growth in the city, council put together a Municipal Development Plan to guide the community's development of roads and neighbourhoods while it grows to 100,000 residents
“The plan provides the city of St. Albert with the ability to not only grow, but to thrive and achieve the successful lifestyle that our residents and our businesses deserve,” Heron said.
Council also completed the annexation of the Sturgeon County lands, while turning a long-time, developer-held lot in Kingswood into a park.
This council also finalized the planning and secured the funding for the twinning of Ray Gibbon Road, Heron said, while tackling other transportation-related projects in the city, such as lowering the speed limits in neighbourhoods and creating road and travel spaces for those walking, biking, and driving.
Coun. Sheena Hughes said they also amped up the use of public transit, with free transit offered to the city’s youth.
The city joined forces with other municipalities to create a regional public transit program – the Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Services Commission.
While the city continues to grow, Heron said council has also made significant progress on infrastructure projects, such as rebuilding Fire Hall #1, and with finding ways to build public recreation facilities.
Heron also struck a committee on homelessness during her first term as mayor, and voted to pass a ban on conversion therapy in the city.
Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette