October 5, 2012

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An Open Letter To St. Albert City Council

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A number of conversations that I have been involved with in the past has been the operation of the "FARMERS MARKET" which brings the following questions to the fore:

1) Being as how the event is held on St. Anne's Street as well as St. Thomas, WHY is the Chamber of Commerce the recipient of the funds received from the sellers?

2) Is the "FARMERS MARKET" bus service between St. Albert Centre and the event on a 'gratis basis' for the ridership or does the Chamber compensate the city for the expense?

To take a more in depth look at the aforementioned think of the following:

It has always been my understanding that a function of a Chamber of Commerce was to promote MORE business for its membership as well as to promote the area to see the same expand working in conjunction with the city. If one were to take a close look at the situation here, you have a Chamber that for a want of words is "in business - and competing with its own membership to a large extent." Should they not be assessed with a bill for a business licence as they are for a want of words "Landlords" collecting rent. Where I arrive at my understanding is that I was on the Board of directors as as well as President for one year for the Chamber of Commerce in Jasper, Alberta. The aim at all times was to promote the area in conjunction with the likes of Travel Alberta, CN Rail, CP Air, and to a large degree Brewster Transport This also took in sales promotion to Japan by myself on 2 occasions - the outcome proved its worth. At all times the businesses were the recipient of additional business and more revenue for the area.

Furthermore do any of the businesses in the area as mentioned earlier (St. Thomas as well as St. Anne Street) gain by the large influx of walking traffic who arrive to purchase items from the market - from what I observe once the individuals have made there purchases, you then see them proceed to their vehicles and depart for wherever. In the majority of cases businesses in the immediate area are specialty shops and I do not again think they benefit to any degree. Furthermore paid-up members of the library are for a want of words out of luck for any parking space in the immediate area - does not seem right.

Some individuals have suggested that the FARMERS MARKET should be located in the parking area adjacent to Service Place, which makes a lot of sense. This could be supervised by dedicated members of the staff and monies that would be collected to go towards the yearly operating deficit.

And finally, going back approx. 2 years ago during one of the days the FARMERS MARKET was in operation, members of SATA were passing out info pages and were told that they must vacate the immediate area (St. Thomas and St. Anne's Streets) as the Chamber was in charge, consequently the group had to sit out by the community Centre to give out the brochures in question. I thought that the streets mentioned were city property, but it appears that I was wrong. And in closing to clear up any thoughts by the council, no I am not a member of the SATA board but am just interested in how tax dollars are being utilized.

I would be pleased to hear your opinions of the aforementioned statements:

Thanking you,

G.E. Proulx
St. Albert

The Mayor responded with this:

M. George Proulx

By copy of this to Mr. Jardine, our GM for this, I will ask that he share with you the agreement the City has with the Chamber.

I copy the Chamber who may wish to comment as well.

Regards,

Mayor Nolan Crouse
City of St. Albert

Mr. Proulx then writes:

Don:

Here is the response from MOFFAT re: the Farmer's Market. No mention of the Chamber paying the city to operate that shuttle service as well as no mention made for any funds to come to the city coffers.

G. E. Proulx
St. Albert

The Chamber's Response:

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Dear Mr. Proulx:

I am in receipt of a copy of your recent letter to Mayor Crouse and City Councillors concerning the St. Albert Farmers’ Market. I’m pleased to offer the following comments that I hope will be informative for you:

1. This year is the 30th anniversary of the St. Albert Farmers’ Market, which was started by and continues to be managed by the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce.

2. The Farmers’ Market has always been located in our downtown, as the purpose of holding the market is to draw people into the downtown to provide an economic boost to the area, and to draw non-resident spending into the community as a whole.

3. Our Farmers’ Market is the largest outdoor Farmers’ Market in Western Canada – and is widely known as a place to visit on a summer Saturday, not only throughout the Capital Region, but provincially and further.

4. Several of our Farmers’ Market vendors have started out small in our Market, and ended up growing much larger and very successful businesses outside of the Market. We are proud of the opportunities that we make available for hard working entrepreneurs to start out this way.

5. There is a downtown Perron District Committee that works hard to include the local business community in events to draw the Farmers’ Market shoppers into the stores and restaurants. Their work has been very successful.

6. Four years ago we started the Park and Ride service from St. Albert Centre for a couple of reasons . . . to reduce the traffic congestion in the downtown, and to allow the stores in St. Albert Centre to benefit from the numbers of people gathering in our community.

farmersmarket
7. The Farmers’ Market rules do not allow any type of political activity, petitions, or advertising to be present in the Market. The Farmers’ Market success makes it ideal for many organizations to feel they can provide benefit to their own activities by “cashing in” on the large numbers of people who have gathered to enjoy the Farmers’ Market and our beautiful downtown. We do not allow that to happen, and are often challenged by people giving away “free samples” of their products, or those who want to poll public opinion.

There are many businesses located in our downtown who strongly support the market, and work hard to take advantage of the numbers of people walking by their doors. This has become and will continue to be one of the most loved events in our City, and a big part of the culture of St. Albert. We, at the Chamber of Commerce, are proud of our efforts, and what we’ve been able to grow here in our own community.

If you have any additional comments or concerns that I can help you with, I hope you won’t hesitate to contact me.

Lynda Moffat
President and CEO
St Albert & District Chamber of Commerce

Chamber's Response Answers Nothing,
Little More Than Self Praise At Best


Lynda Moffat's response to Mr. Proulx's letter is little more than a pat on the back for the Chamber by its own hand.

It certainly does not in any way answer any of his questions or concerns.

So, let's try this again. This morning, I emailed Ms. Moffat and asked her these questions that only require a yes or no answer. We'll publish her response once we receive it.

Here is a copy of the email request to Moffat, copied to each member of city council:

Dear Ms. Moffat,

Your response to an open letter to the mayor and council from Mr. George Proulx of the city does in no way address any of Mr. Proulx's questions or concerns.

St. Albert's Place would appreciate a direct and honest answer to the following two questions:

1. Does the St. Albert & District Chamber of Commerce compensate the city of St. Albert in any way for the use of downtown streets, the setting up and removal of barricades, the use of electrical power to vendors and opening city hall to provide washroom facilities for the patrons of the Farmers Market?

2. Does the St. Albert & District Chamber of Commerce compensate the city of St. Albert or St. Albert Transit in any way for the park and ride services to the Farmers Market provided to the downtown area from the St. Albert Centre Mall?

Surely the taxpayers of St. Albert deserve an honest accounting as to whether or not they are footing the bill for the Chamber's fundraising activities.

I might add that your response number seven particularly concerns me. When a Chamber is allowed to stifle the public's right to free speech and assembly on the streets of our city, apparently condoned by our council, something is very, very wrong and this should be challenged in a court of law under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. How can you possibly state such an affront to rights as Chamber policy?
I would also be more than interested to hear from members of council as to whether or not they condone this policy.

Thank you in advance for your time and courtesy in preparing a reply.

Don Sinclair
President and CEO
St. Albert's Place On The Web

Chamber's Astonishing Response To Questions

This morning I received this response from Lynda Moffat of the St. Albert & District Chamber of Commerce:

"Good to hear from you again Don.

I thought my response was to Mr. Proulx, and didn’t realize that you speak for him.

It’s good to see that you’re still staying “involved”. Hope you’re keeping well."

Lynda Moffat
President and CEO
St Albert & District Chamber of Commerce

Translation: The chamber pays for nothing that compensates local taxpayers for the expenses they incur by the city providing free services to operate the Farmers Market.

The sheer arrogance of the person representing the merchants of St. Albert is also troubling. It is little wonder why the city has developed a reputation for not only being business unfriendly, but having unfriendly businesses as well.

Chamber members ought to be ashamed of their president and CEO who treats residents like dirt when it comes to spending tax dollars and then expects them to support local business.


Maple Flag At Cold Lake - Photos By James

A St. Albert's Place regular reader was in Cold Lake to take in the annual Maple Flag event. He wishes to be know simply as 'James', but has an obvious skill with a camera and sent us a series of photographs of various aircraft.

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Alpha Jet touching down.

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Another Alpha Jet touching down.

Whatzit?

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By Bixman of St. Albert for SAP. Submit your guess in Live Chat below.

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Links To Other Stories In The News:

Yearbook slur 42 years ago prompts apology - CBC

How Apple has changed under Tim Cook - CNN

Police raid Laval, Que. mayor's home, city hall office - CTV

XL Foods admits safety protocols were lacking - Edmonton Journal

RCMP arrest alleged kidnapper in 17-year-old case - Edmonton Sun
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The Things That People Send Us

Puppies and kids communicating . . .

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Animusic Resonant Chamber

An amazing contraption indeed. Imagine tuning this thing!


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