Monthly Archives: May 2013

Leadership Not Required

Overview

For the last few years a red flag has been flying in front of our eyes. A dangerous flag that not only takes the sovereignty from this city’s residents, but gives the mayor and present council a blueprint of how to develop St. Albert. Leadership is not required. Thought is not required. Only the determination to implement a non-elected, non-government entity’s plan is needed. Additional criteria required is the ability to pick and choose the points that local government believes they can incorporate without too much fuss from its residents. The other points will fall into place over time.

It is a plan that is being duplicated worldwide. Some municipalities have woken up to its dangers. Some are familiar with history’s repeated failures of this plan. Some have withdrawn their support as they see the danger in what is transpiring. And more are in the process of severing ties to an entity that consumes taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars – dollars that should be going towards the community they live in and not to an unelected non-governmental organization (NGO) that is regulating and ruling their lives. Yet St. Albert’s mayor – Mayor Nolan Crouse – officially signed St. Albert on in March of 2010.

What is this that St. Albert residents are not aware of? What is it that St. Albert residents work so hard to fund and receive nothing in return? What is it that screams of not requiring leadership – only a token figurehead to implement it?

It is called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, also known as ICLEI.

Presently headquartered in Bonn, Germany, this non-governmental organization (NGO) was created by the United Nations in 1990. As its goals became known, it developed and partnered with a variety of national and international organizations to gain further foothold in local communities. A few of these found in Canada are:

  • Associations of Local Governments (i.e. Alberta Urban Municipalities)    
  • Environment Canada
  • Federation of Canadian Municipalities
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Partners for Climate Protection

ICLEI’s blueprints encompass all aspects of a community’s function. And taxpayers fund this. Some of the most notable ones affecting St. Albert, and coming straight from this NGO’s blueprint are:

  • Economic Development and Home of Community Sustainability
  • Master Plans
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Smart Growth
  • Strategic Partnerships                                                                  

When NGO’s start governing communities, people should be more than concerned about what is happening to their way of life, what their hard-earned dollars are being used for, where those dollars are going, as well as what is happening to the validity of the electorate system.

We need thinking people at the helm. We need people who have local interest at heart. Puppets are expensive toys that blatantly reinforce that leadership is not required.

******************************************************************************** Stabnow has set out a new category for this very in-depth topic, as it can not adequately be covered in one simple article. The information will be worthwhile for local residents to pursue and consider before they head to the polls in October. Check out “Leadership” under “Categories” on the right-hand side of the page for continued updates and analysis.

Stabnow would also like to send out a special thanks to the astute reader who made us aware of this.

Keep the info coming and if you do not want to be a guest blogger, send us your information anyway. We will research it and then blog it for you.

That Good Ol’ Community Feeling

Remember that feeling of pride one had about this community?

Remember when residents didn’t have to ‘belong’ to an organization to volunteer and partake in a community activity? And when they did belong to an organization, those organizations were supported and remembered by individuals of the community for their generous contributions.

Remember when local government didn’t feel the need to stroke its own ego and actually left residents alone to organize and work events? Those were the days when taxpayers’ hard earned dollars weren’t considered expendable by local government’s whims. That was also the time when more money was left in the pocket of the taxpayer to support the local economy.

But it’s not only major events that local government has decided to dominate over. In the last few years it has decided to micro-manage the lives of residents and isolate them even further from one another. And taxpayers get to pay.

Remember when residents didn’t have to register to have neighbourhood parties?  They were either invited or just wandered over to a neighbour for an evening get together all without government interference. But now taxpayers get to pay for the “freebies” local government hands out at these registered parties. There we go again. Taxpayers get to pay.

Recycling used to be a neighbourhood event in our area. Every couple of weeks neighbours would bring their recyclables to a designated neighbour’s house to load up a vehicle that would take the contents to the recycling yard.  Of course a bit of visiting ensued helping to cement that ‘neighbourhood feeling’ And every few weeks an alternate neighbour would volunteer to be the one to take the recyclables away. Young children helped out and learned in the process. This activity alone contributed to a closeness that local government’s recycling program can’t even hope to imitate.

Wait.

There’s more.

Residents now get to PAY and look forward to yearly increases to have their recyclables taken away by some nameless face and vehicle. Remember that. Taxpayers get to pay.

Then there is the friendly neighbour who graciously helped others with his ATV to clear away snow during heavy snowfalls. Neighbours didn’t have to wait days for the City to clear those public pathways. They helped each other out contributing to that good ol’ neighbourhood feeling. But wait. The City has declared that this can now only be done with either a snowblower or shovel as residents don’t have the intellectual capacity to operate their ATV without doing damage to infrastructure.

Snowblowers came out in numbers and snowblowing commenced. And then, in the City’s infinite wisdom to spend unnecessary funds, it still sent in their equipment to clear what they deemed inappropriate clearing totally ignoring that their bobcats were uprooting lawns, creating mounds of snow in the middle of pathways, thereby making these pathways inaccessible for residents for a number of days, as well as making the paths so uneven with chunks of snow the bobcat operators left in their wake, that it made it difficult for safe walking. And for this inefficiency residents get to pay.

There’s more.

The creative neighbour, who put time, effort and money into decorating their front yard with large ornaments, sculpting the landscape to enhance those ornaments which all added immensely to the look of the neighbourhood, suddenly sees the City at his doorstep. Why? Because someone who doesn’t even live in that neighbourhood took offense to the creative neighbour’s imagination. Anonymously they called to complain about the ornaments and there went taxpayers’ money to send someone out to tell the creative neighbour to dismantle his front yard design.

Three things are wrong with this scenario. One, that the City deems itself an expert in front yard aesthetics and design. Two, that it instituted an anonymous “tattle-tale” system that residents pay for and which really doesn’t contribute to that community feeling. Three, that the City has stepped into micro-managing how one is allowed to express oneself on one’s OWN PRIVATE property. This is oddly reminiscent of a government one would think would never evolve in Canada. But it is evolving. And once again, taxpayers get to dish out their hard earned dollars to lose their rights on their private property.

Local government has repetitively and systematically destroyed that “good ol’ community feeling” over the last few years and it now feels it necessary to erect these wonderful bright orange and red signs in colourful “botanical” St. Albert emphasizing for neighbours to be “good neighbours”, to “watch out for your neighbours”, to “play safe”, to “this is your neighbourhood”.  Sarcasm abounds in this writer’s mind right about now. Why should local government have to tell its citizens when to get together or when to be a good neighbour or when to play safe or that they are actually living in a neighbourhood? When was local government elected to be taxpayers’ parents? And why should taxpayers have to pay for these hideous signs that not only are a distraction while driving, but are an extreme irritant to the eyes? Common sense says taxpayers should not accept local government’s irritating signs displaying irrelevant messages in the guise of being caring. If local government really cared, they would not waste taxpayers’ money on frivolous signs.

The above are just a small sample of how our local government is methodically destroying a community’s desire to actually be a community. And in destroying that initiative, local government grows exponentially, generously helping themselves to resident’s hard-earned money.

It is a fact, that be it only in one’s neighbourhood or be it for the community itself, more pride and community feeling are accomplished when residents don’t have to jump through local government hoops. Having an entity that has grown too large to be recognizable as a viable participant chokes the life out of that community feeling. And taxpayers pay for that with more than just their wallets.

How sad.

Privacy and Security

Privacy and security. That’s something most people cherish and something one would expect to find in *exclusive* St. Albert. But how secure do you believe you are in St. Albert? How much privacy do you believe you still have here?

Have you checked out the latest addition to the City’s online service? They’ve spent YOUR dollars to take aerial pictures of YOUR property so that thieves have easier access to check out YOUR security measures, “in” and “out” routes they can access, hiding places your property offers (i.e. shrubs) and the number and type of vehicles on your property.

As an added bonus, the City’s website states :

While the City of St Albert provides the information contained within the following maps and screens in good faith, it does not warrant, covenant, or guarantee the completeness and accuracy of this information. The City is not liable for damages or losses that may result from the use of or reliance upon information accessed through this website.

If Council was even remotely concerned with the security and privacy of its residents and respect what “private property” actually means, it would have done what other places, such as Germany, have done and that is, at the very least, enable residents to “opt out” of this application. Instead it has used YOUR tax dollars to enable the curious and possibly the nefarious to further  erode your privacy and safety.

Isn’t it great that taxpayers’ money is used by the City to play with new toys at the expense of the privacy and security of its residents?