A piece of history that few may know about
In 1956, there was funding available for planning and financing development in newly created or existing towns who were undergoing rapid growth under the New Town Act provincial legislation passed in 1956. St. Albert was anticipating more development and a larger population to come and so applied for this status from the Provincial Planning Advisory Board (PPAB) in 1956, and officially became a New Town on Jan 1, 1957. Part of this new status also meant that St. Albert increased in size; land south of the town along the trail and in rural areas were added. It was also at this point that instead of a council, a Board of Administrators was formed to run the New Town. Previous Mayor Veness served as the chair of this board.
There was a rapid pace of growth from this point. However, as a sudden surprise to St. Albert residents, the provincial government decided to rescind St. Albert’s New Town status in the spring of 1962 and went back to being a regular town, going into effect on June 27, 1962. A new council was elected that year, with William Veness being reelected as Mayor. A reason for the change was that it was thought that the financial state of the town was healthy enough for it not to require funding available to New Towns. There was a budget surplus in 1962, but the town ran into deficit by 1963. Many things were thought to have attributed to St. Albert’s now poor financial status, including loss of the New Town status which meant less revenue coming in from the province.
To alleviate this financial situation (to pay debts), town council in May 1963 put in a request to the provincial Local Authorities Board (LAB) to take over the town’s finances, which would allow the town to take on more loans. The LAB obtained full jurisdiction over the finances of the town in Nov. 1963. There was bit of turmoil on the local political scene from 1963 onward for a time, with the October, 1964 election results cancelled after reports of congestion at the polls and lack of privacy. The election was declared invalid with the Mayor and 3 councillors removed and new election arranged. St. Albert would then stagnate in development for the later half of the 1960’s, with very little increase in population. It was also in the latter 60’s that talks of annexation to Edmonton began to occur.
The financial situation finally starting turning around in 1969 with the first projected surplus since 1962. Much of the surplus came from having developers service their own building sites and put in street boulevards. So, an application was put to the province to release the town from the control of the LAB, and the town regained full control of its finances in December of 1969. Development and population would boom from 1968 – 1975, doubling in size. St. Albert became a city in 1977.
A bit of history, development and finances that may be of interest to some!!
Thanks to and with help from Vino at the St Albert Musee Heritage Museum