Finance Minister Joe Ceci tabled the 2017 Alberta Budget Thursday afternoon, which comes with a $10.3-billion deficit.
So what’s in it for Calgary and Lethbridge? Here’s a snapshot.
The 2017 budget includes $500 million in funding for 24 new and modernized schools across the province, five of which will be built in Calgary and four of which will be built in Edmonton. There are also funds for design work on a fifth new school in Edmonton.
The government said full details will be released in the coming weeks but added these projects are on top of the 200 already underway in Alberta.
New long-term care facility
A new 200-bed long-term care facility will be built in the Bridgeland neighbourhood. The government has allocated $131 million over four years for the project, which is meant for people with complex care needs such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Calgary Cancer Centre
While previously promised, the budget includes nearly $1.2 billion for Calgary’s new cancer centre. Construction on the project is scheduled to begin later this year at the Foothills Medical Centre. The cancer centre is set to open in 2024.
Renovations to University of Calgary’s MacKimmie Complex
Over the next four years, the University of Calgary’s MacKimmie Complex will receive $270 million for design and redevelopment planning, and for renovations. The redevelopment will support future growth in the nursing and social work faculties.
While no dollar figure was announced, Ceci outlined plans to partner with the City of Calgary “to make sure Deerfoot Trail is able to accommodate new and growing communities in the south.”
The province will move forward on plans with the federal government on the construction of Airport Trail.
A new interchange will also be built in the city’s southeast, at 212 Avenue. The government said the cost and details of the project are still to come.
On Wednesday, the province announced it will spend $5.6 million to plan for 14 affordable housing projects throughout the province. Budget 2017 stated 24 units of supportive housing will be built in Calgary for people struggling with substance abuse.
Post-secondary tuition freeze
For the third year in a row, the government said it will freeze tuition for post-secondary students across Alberta.
Alberta’s Provincial Operations Centre
The hub for emergency management during the Fort McMurray wildfire last May, the Provincial Operations Centre in Edmonton will receive $125 million for modernization. The centre is responsible for coordinating the initial response and maintaining support for responses to natural and human-caused disaster.
Budget 2017 outlines $19.1 million for the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team.
Mayor Nenshi reactions
Calgary’s mayor spoke to the media Thursday afternoon, saying the budget was “very much business as usual for the City of Calgary.”
Naheed Nenshi offered a lack of surprise at any of the decisions in the budget and gave the provincial government credit for some infrastructure decisions.
“We’re pleased to see the government is moving forward on funding for the Deerfoot Trail and 212 Ave. south interchange,” he said.
Nenshi was also happy with the announcement the province plans to move forward on what he called Calgary’s “number one road priority,” Airport Trail. The budget suggested the province will work with the city and the federal government to complete the east – west roadway.
After saying he was happy to hear the Calgary LRT line mentioned as well as funding for addiction and mental health, Nenshi did express disappointment in two major points.
“It looks like the province has rejected our request to increase the media fund.” (Money which is earmarked for the film industry.) Nenshi said it appears the NDP are actually planning to cut that funding which he said is an oversight in the overall economic benefit of the growing film industry in Alberta.
He also said he was disappointed at the lack of clarity on cost-sharing for things like affordable housing.
“If the federal government does, as expected, allocate an enormous amount for affordable housing the province and the city are going to have to be ready with projects and with matching funds. So it’s something we’re going to have to move very quickly on.”
Finally the mayor said he was surprised he did not see the Springbank offstream reservoir in the budget, but said he is hoping that money has already been designated in another budget and expects the project will be fully funded.
What’s in the budget for Lethbridge?
Budget 2017 allocated $2 million towards the design of a new school in south Lethbridge.
Cavendish Farms expansion
The government outlined $7 million in Municipal and Irrigation Infrastructure Support funding to facilitate the expansion at Cavendish Farms.
On Wednesday, the province announced it will spend $5.6 million to plan for 14 affordable housing projects throughout the province. Budget 2017 outlines $3.5 million over four years to the London Road Gateway Regeneration to build affordable housing units.
Public library services
The government has committed to continue funding support for public library access for Indigenous communities in Lethbridge. The budget outlines $700,000 for these efforts.
University of Lethbridge Destination Project
The University of Lethbridge Destination Project, a new science and academic building, will receive $123 million over the next three years.
$10 million in funding has been allocated for the Trades and Technology Renewal and Innovation Project, which will provide space for approximately 880 new students.
This year, municipalities will receive just over $1.2 billion under the Municipal Sustainability Initiative with $21 million going to Lethbridge.
To see what’s in the budget for Edmonton and areas, click here.