Paid parking to roll out as pilot project

Jasper Municipal Council directed administration to implement a paid parking pilot project in the 2021 budget year during its Jan. 19 regular meeting.

Administration will also present project and public engagement plans before implementing paid parking.

Chief administrative officer (CAO) Bill Given said this will allow administration to consider how paid parking will impact the 2021 budget and assist in the preparation of the budget too.

“The concept of a pilot project… would give administration and council an opportunity to work with the community, including affected businesses, residents and other stakeholders on the best way to move forward,” Given said.

“Administration is aware of concerns about overflow into residential areas, impact on… closely neighbouring businesses and the impact on our reserves, along with council’s priority on establishing fiscal equity and ensuring visitors are (paying) their fair share of the load of the cost of services in the municipality.”

“It’s important to emphasize that the point of bringing together a pilot project is so we can adjust as we go on,” added Coun. Paul Butler.

Bernie Kreiner, a “non-resident,” sent a letter to council indicating his strong support for paid parking in the commercial areas of the Municipality of Jasper.

He acknowledged moving in this direction will require some courage because of “the likelihood of parking shifting to nearby residential streets” and “some business concern that this might reduce visitors.”

“However, as one such customer, I will put a coin in a parking meter and still stop to get a cinnamon bun at the Bearpaw before or after enjoying a day in Jasper’s Nature,” Kreiner wrote to council. “Be bold, and do the right thing for the long term (sic) wellness of your community.”

Asbestos removal

Council approved a $ 20,000 capital budget project for asbestos removal in the Multipurpose Hall chair storage room.

The Multipurpose Hall renovation capital project was under budget by $ 15,500, which is available in restricted reserves, and will be applied to the project.

Yvonne McNabb, director of culture and recreation, told council the asbestos was detected in November. When it was tested, administration was told it would take a week or two to get approval to remove the asbestos.

In addition to getting approval, McNabb said there’s the removal process itself and then replacing the gyprock.

“There’s quite a few steps,” she said. “That’s why I thought it was best to get this project going in the event we open our facilities.”

Coal development policy

Coun. Jenna McGrath urged a letter be sent from council about the province’s decision to rescind a coal development policy, originally published in 1976, to West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long, Premier Jason Kenney and Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon.

McGrath said the letter needs to emphasize the importance of protecting the environment and the Rocky Mountains of Alberta.

“I believe it’s important for our water supply and the future generations of Albertans to stand up today,” she said. “Go back to the drawing board and encourage reinstating the coal policy.”

Effective June 1, 2020, the rescission stated, “Former category 1 lands will continue to be protected from coal leasing, exploration and development of public lands but will not infringe on private lands or freehold mineral rights.

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“This will support critical watersheds, biodiversity… as well as recreation and tourism activities along the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Leasing outside of these areas will be subject to the same land use planning and management rules that apply to all other resources and industrial uses.”

Councillors Scott Wilson, Butler and Bert Journeault said such a letter is not in the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Jasper.

Coun. Helen Kelleher-Empey noted she would like for council to return to this matter after she did her own research.

Coun. Rico Damota added a formal discussion is needed before a letter comes from council.

Mayor Richard Ireland wants to check out the facts first. The matter was deferred to the Feb. 2 regular council meeting.

Skating surfaces

McGrath suggested skating surfaces in town would be a great idea. The consensus was to keep it simple at first.

Wilson said he’s talked with members of the Volunteer Fire Brigade who have looked into it.

“It might be prudent to chat with them as well,” he said.

“Let’s just start with a small project, a place where most kids can walk to,” Journeault added. “Let’s keep it simple and let it grow. This is a good year to (do it).”

Ireland urged a “high key but low cost” approach.

Council directed administration to return to a committee of the whole meeting with a report about options for a low cost, high profile, easily-accessible outdoor skating options that can be implemented this winter season.

TORONTO STAR