The benefits and costs of a River that runs through our community
Recently I was thinking about the Sturgeon River and the benefits and costs to have a river in our community; any community for that matter.
BLESS – a key steward would have a list below just as long.
The benefits are endless and include kayaking, bird-watching, gazing, school field trips and fishing for some rivers. Depending on the River, the benefits may include canoeing, swimming, transportation of goods and tourism and of course each has its own diverse ecosystem worth learning about.
The costs for a river however include extra bridges, walkways and clean up. For the Sturgeon River it also includes the cost to all of us for remediation of the old dump and lagoon sites in Riel that could influence the health of the River. But that costs money!
At tax time, the residents may not realize that the costs in St. Albert to maintain the several pedestrian crossings and the 3 motor vehicle bridges are likely a million dollars a year to maintain year in and year out over the long term. Salt damage, vehicle damages, restoration, annual clean up, extra paint jobs etc., are all the costs that residents have to pay for; to have the right to have a river in our community. That of course is not a cost that Airdrie, Spruce Grove, Leduc or many other cities have to pay for.
Often there are questions about the St. Albert taxes. 1% of your tax bill every year goes to pay for the Sturgeon River and its related concrete and asphalt infrastructure.
It is worth it, but few understand the cost of having a river in their city. No one wants to do without the river but many wish to complain about the cost to keep it healthy or traversable.
Sturgeon River work – 2005-2017
- Soccer/Rugby fields upgrade
- Rodeo and BMX grounds upgrade
- R.E.E.P. < 475 volunteers; hundreds of trees, plants planted
- Paul Kane Social Justice Group
- Old Public Works Yard monitoring
- Grocery Cart Program at Zellers keeps them out of the River
- Public Works Cleanup annually
- Graffiti removal on bridges
- Outfalls installation
- Consultant hired to report on the river
- NAIT study of the river
- Tree protection from beavers (Mesh Wire)
- Skating rink on river at Braeside
- Rock ‘n August shows along the valley
- Flood plain mapping complete
- Grey Nuns White Spruce Park
- Storm-water pond installations
- Story boards added and upgraded
- Hired a staff person
- Installed an access ramp by the BLESS Shelter
The fear mongers do not like to hear about this costing money – they only want costs to go away. The River is expensive – the cost is high – the benefits are worth it.