St. Albert sets future with a Smart City focus and strategic partnerships

ST. ALBERT, AB, March 5, 2013 /CNW/ - St. Albert's economic development plans were expounded on by Mayor Nolan Crouse, City Manager Patrick Draper and Economic Development Executive Director Guy Boston at the City's annual Business Breakfast on February 26, 2013.

"What differentiates St. Albert's economic development opportunities are our community, access to key transportation routes, the community's Botanical Arts brand, as well as 1,200 acres of available non-residential land," says Mayor Crouse. He also pointed out that the community supports economic development and it is a Council priority. Mayor Crouse proclaimed February 26 as Economic Development Day in St. Albert to recognize the importance of economic development.

"Effective economic development programs need a focus to drive collaboration, to develop human expertise and skills, to connect industry clusters and to build critical mass and economies of scale," says Draper. "For St. Albert, the focus will be based on the Smart City principles expanded to serve as a springboard for regional and provincial growth, while reducing our environmental footprint." Council approved the development of a Smart City Centre of Excellence Master Plan on February 19, 2013, to create a competitive advantage in the new knowledge-intensive, technology-based global economy.

Conceptually, Smart City is about using information and communication technologies in all aspects of services and infrastructure to create efficiencies for residents, businesses and government. The concept is also closely tied to reducing cities' ecological imprint to a minimum by increasing their resource efficiency. Examples of such innovative solutions already in place in St. Albert include St. Albert's Transit's NextBus application which tells subscribers when their bus will arrive, and traffic management at signalled intersections through cameras to improve traffic flow, and in the future, to centralize traffic monitoring and management.

"The second critical success factor is the formation of an alliance that will bring together community leaders and city builders, governments, businesses, international corporations, land developers and academic innovators. This alliance will identify the opportunities, create knowledge networks, incubate the solutions and champion the launch of these new innovations to residents," added Draper. "This would manifest itself in Smart City showrooms for global technology providers, Smart City conference space, technology start-up incubators, energy-efficiency academic labs, data analytic warehouses and more. We will provide a whole city approach to the adoption of innovative technologies to improve the efficiency of City operations and quality of life for residents, attract business investment to the city, realize labour efficiencies and provide real-time data on the operation and condition of City infrastructure and services."

Boston provided an update on the City's Economic Development Action Plan approved in October 2012. "We are embarking on the single largest industrial development in the history of St. Albert. There are impressive opportunities here for land assembly by developers and great opportunities for business investment and employment growth," says Boston. "We have invested in transportation infrastructure to connect to major routes within the region and provincially. We have 617 acres of land recently designated as light industrial. The City has made progress on a number of items on the Plan in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors to support economic development. We will continue to take a strategic approach to creating development opportunities, increasing appropriate housing solutions and labour opportunities for sustainable growth and development."

Some of the highlights of the progress include: 175,000 sq. ft. of commercial space added/being added by the end of 2013, with two major international brand anchor tenants; and 31 new industrial businesses in 2012. Great West Life recently purchased 143 acres of industrial land and its plans include 1.3 million sq. ft of development starting as early as next spring.

Short- to mid-term plans include: Smart City Centre of Excellence Master Plan to take advantage of information and technology-based economy; wayfinding signage master plan underway to better serve businesses, visitors and residents; and a new residential attraction strategy aimed at attracting younger families to St. Albert. The City will continue to work on the items in the action plan, including design options for industrial development and potential industrial incentives for Council's consideration by June 2013.

The video of the full presentation of the annual breakfast is available on the City's Youtube channel. The webcast of the Smart City presentation to Council is available on the City of St. Albert website at www.stalbert.ca/council-meetings-library.For more information on the City's economic development activities please visit www.cultivatebusiness.ca.

Known as the Botanical Arts City, St. Albert has 61,000 residents and abuts Edmonton, Alberta's capital. St. Albert was ranked 5th on the 2012 Canadian Real Estate Investment Network's Top Albert Investment Towns, and 12th on MoneySense's 2012 Best Places to Live in Canada ranking.

SOURCE: City of St. Albert

For further information:

Nolan Crouse
Mayor
City of St. Albert
780-459-1605

Patrick Draper
City Manager
City of St. Albert
780-459-1502

Guy Boston
Executive Director, Economic Development
City of St. Albert
780-459-1653

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