February 24, 2017

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Eldorado Presentation To Council

Council Became Our Adversaries

Eldorado Presentation To Council
Editor’s Note: The following is the text of a presentation made to St. Albert city council on February 21, 2017.

Mayor and Council:

I among others am here today to witness the partial ‘righting’ of a previous wrong. It will soon be four years since the residents of Erin Ridge first faced the threat of losing at the very least a significant portion of Eldorado Park. Although it was more an open field than picture book it was nonetheless prized by many as a place for informal gatherings, flying a kite or just playing ball and running around with the kids. Throughout the warmer months it regularly accommodated organized soccer games involving teams from across St. Albert and beyond.

Then came the day when it was inadvertently discovered that the park had been selected as the site of a regional secondary school which needless to say, aroused considerable concern that was about to become outright consternation. It wasn’t long before residents were banding together to discuss the issue and what might be done about it. This evolved into a literally ‘grassroots movement’ involving increasingly large gatherings held in the park itself. The attendance of several sitting city councilors at these meetings created what would later be realized as a naïve hope that perhaps we actually stood a chance of saving the park. Alas, while the interest and support expressed by a couple of the local politicians would prove to be sincere it was soon realized that others among them had more ulterior motives.

In defiance of the old saying; “You can’t fight City Hall!” the Erin Ridge Residents’ Action Committee (ERRAC) was created consisting of a core group of residents who would spearhead the efforts to have the decision overturned. Little did we know what our mission would entail or what we would endure in terms of pushback from City Council and Administration not only in the way of obstruction but from our perspective, outright deceit. Of course the usual accusations of nimbyism and to an even more ridiculous extent, prejudice and discrimination were attributed to us in a vein attempt to discredit and shame us into submission.

For one last time, let me make it perfectly clear that our quarrel was explicitly with the bureaucracy of City Hall in its stubborn adherence to an inherently undemocratic process involving the School Site Allocation Committee (SSAC) and the since removed City Manager. In effect, our very own elected representatives became our adversaries through deliberately obtrusive actions and inactions. From the very start, we maintained the position that Eldorado Park should remain intact as that particular area of Erin Ridge was already suffering the consequences of over-development that continue to this very day. In the main part, these consist of intolerable traffic congestion creating safety and noise issues that negatively impact the quality of life and economic welfare (i.e. property values and sale-ability) of the neighbouring residents that as predicted by us, have worsened. Had we been listened to and the project moved to a different site we may very well have been happy to get back to leading our ordinary lives but such was not to be.

Instead, the Eldorado incident opened our eyes to the much more pervasive and worrisome problems that exist within the politics and operations at City Hall. It is toward these that a number of us along with numerous others have since shifted our attention. With true poetic justice, the intransigence we experienced has over time created a considerable degree of circumspection from various sources. Sadly to say however, a similar modus operandi on the part of the City continues to this day with just one example being the current issue in Braeside surrounding a land swap (again involving parkland) and a proposed high-density condo project.

With the foregoing being said and the school built and operating, it is sensible that we move on and make the best of the situation. During a recent Open House Event, I personally toured Ecole Alexandre Tache and as a retired educator was very impressed not only with the physical plant but the inviting atmosphere created by the hosting students and staff. To that extent, I genuinely wish them well moving forward.

Perhaps some degree of reconciliation is possible through your approval of the redistricting although it will not entirely erase what was done nor give us back anything close to what we had. Unless it can be guaranteed that reverting back to the ‘P’ designation also stands for “in perpetuity” there is the realization that another simple decision by the present or future council could yet deprive us of what has to date been salvaged from the original Eldorado Park.

Murray Lambert
St. Albert

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Every Saturday Afternoon 4:00 - 8:00 p.m.
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Saturday Sessions February 25th Presents

Darren Gusnowsky - This weeks Mark Ammar's Saturday Sessions Jam presents guest Darren Gusnowsky  - a very respected guitarist, Darren is spoken of as one of the busiest, hardest working guitarists on the country scene. Another musician who is in it “for the long run”, a, guitarist, singer, and tunesmith, he loves the country-honk of the Exile On Mainstreet era Rolling Stones, and the seamless harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in their prime.

There’s nothing like setting the bar high. So just to add another key element into Darren’s musical personality, he has no problem remembering that it was his mother turning him on to Ricky Skaggs, which convinced him he should pay more attention to hardcore country sounds. In quoting Darren, “Here I am all these years later, winning an award with Stacie and Rob at the CCMA’s, hearing our songs on the radio, and standing side stage at a show we’ve opened for the Kentucky Headhunters and Marty Stuart,” says Gusnowsky, with an “it doesn’t get much better than this”.

A brilliant guitarist frontman who started playing full time on the road in 1993, and went to GMCC in 1997 for two years. He has freelanced for artists, Gord Bamford, Dwayne Steele and others before focusing on Hey Romeo. Darren started writing for a new project with Rob Shapiro and has been doing some freelance work again, playing with recording artist Dan Davidson. Darren also appears plays locally with acts $4 Bill, The Mojave Iguanas, and Stomp N Holler.

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Pyrohy Supper Event Tonight
Pyrohy Supper
All you can eat - only $12 for seniors and $15 for others. February 24, 2017 5:00 p.m. Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 10951, 107 Street, Edmonton.