Alberta Budget 2016: What’s in it for Calgary and Lethbridge?
Finance minister Joe Ceci delivered his second provincial budget Thursday; one with a record deficit of $10.4 billion. So, what’s in it for Calgary? Two big projects: The Calgary Cancer Centre and the ring road did receive funding, but the Green Line LRT did not.
“The Green Line is a very long-term funding commitment,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said after the budget was released. “The City of Calgary has funded $52 million a year times 30 years to pay for it, so I think it would be unfair of us–having paid our own commitment over 30 years–to expect the federal and provincial government to do it over one or two years.”
“Now, if they want to give me a cheque next year for the whole thing, I will happily take it…But I’m also realistic.”
Nenshi said he is confident in the project’s future, as a committee is being developed to deal with the funding strategy.
Things like the carbon levy will trickle down to cities and therefore taxpayers.
However, funding for affordable housing more than doubled, which is something municipalities have been calling for.
There’s also money for ALERT.
Calgary Cancer Centre
Over the next five years, $1.2 billion will go to the cancer centre. Fifteen million is earmarked for this year, while $100 million will be spent next year.
While the province would not give details on the total cost of the project, it said shovels will be in the ground in 2017/2018. It said the centre is scheduled to be completed by 2024.
October’s provincial budget confirmed the centre would be delayed.
WATCH: Global’s Linda Olsen speaks with Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci in the wake of his release of the NDP’s 2016 budget on Thursday. Ceci said the deficit will be $10.4 billion this year, with no expectation of balancing the books before 2024.
This budget allocates $2.9 million for the ring roads in Calgary and Edmonton over five years, but won’t separate the two since the Calgary project is about to go out to tender and government doesn’t want to impact the bids.
The government has allocated no new money for the Green Line LRT in Calgary and has “no timeline” for project support.
While new LRT funding is not included in the budget, the province says it is in talks with the cities and is committed to supporting public transit.
The zoo is getting $10 million over three years for an expansion. That money will support new pandas at the zoo.
Cities getting less MSI
A previous promise to increase Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding by $50 million was broken. So, cities are getting less MSI funding than they were expecting for this and next fiscal years.
Money for schools
The commitment to 200 new schools and modernizations across Alberta stands, but there is no new money for schools.
Several school projects, including new schools in Cougar Ridge, Coventry Hills, Evergreen, Forest Lawn and Airdrie, are now on the “Unfunded Capital Projects” list.
“We are almost doubling the investment in affordable housing,” Ceci said.
He said previous governments didn’t put enough money into the maintenance and rehabilitation of affordable housing.
About $890 million will be spent on affordable housing over five years.
Earlier this week, the government announced $500 million of that would be for seniors.
The 2016 budget includes $29.1 million for ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team) so it can continue fighting organized crime across Alberta.
What’s in it for Lethbridge?
The city will see $15 million towards the Lethbridge Chinook Regional Hospital, $9 million of which will come this fiscal year.
Lethbridge University will get $248 million for its Destination Project over five years; roughly half of that will come this fiscal year.
Lethbridge College will get $24 million over five years for “trades and technology renewal and innovation.” It will see more than half this fiscal year.
With a file from Global’s Nancy Hixt
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment, Inc