EDMONTON — The mayors of Calgary and Edmonton say they are working more closely with the province in the hope of improving services without spending lots of new money.
Naheed Nenshi and Don Iveson met with the NDP cabinet Tuesday in Edmonton to discuss their city charter.
Nenshi says they talked about collaborating on ways to bolster transit, policing and housing, as well as on ways to reduce poverty.
“We’re really saying, ‘Look, investments in affordable housing can save you money in health care, can save you money in policing.’ And so taking that kind of systemic view and looking at how investments today in housing-first models, for example… can actually lead to long-term financial savings is a big deal,” Nenshi said. “And we haven’t, as governments, been able to do that in the past.”
Iveson says improvements in housing for the poor could save the province money by reducing health care and justice system costs.
He says one idea is to allow cities to finance projects with the province.
Giving the cities more taxation powers was not on the table.
“We didn’t talk at all today about taxation authorities for the municipalities. I think we all recognize that in this fiscal environment, talking about new taxes is not a good sell. What we need to focus on is how orders of government can work together to make the dollars that we’re entrusted with go further through collaboration,” Iveson said.
The city charter would give Edmonton and Calgary more authority to make their own decisions and possibly find or generate new sources of cash.
“Given the current fiscal concerns with the province, we’re definitely talking more about non-monetary partnerships at this point in time,” Danielle Larivee, municipal affairs minister, said.
Nenshi and Iveson have pitched their city charter to four different premiers over the past four years. The charter is expected to come into effect in the spring of 2017, ahead of the municipal elections.
With files from Laurel Gregory, Global News.