Finance Minister Joe Ceci’s 2018 budget sees Alberta begin to reduce its capital spending but the province’s NDP government is still planning for $26.6 billion in capital spending over five years. Many of those dollars will be spent on projects and initiatives in Edmonton and the surrounding areas.
The 2018 budget earmarks almost $393 million for 20 new schools, one of which was already announced for Edmonton. The specific locations are expected to be made public on Friday.
The University of Alberta is getting $30 million to upgrade its energy system so it can increase the capacity of the campus electrical system. The U of A’s dentistry and pharmacy building is getting $52 million this year to help with its functional renewal.
In Fort McMurray, Keyano College will receive $8 million in campus upgrades.
The province is committing $3 billion over the next 10 years for light rail transit. Last summer, the province already announced $1.53 billion for Calgary’s Green Line but funding for Edmonton projects has not yet been earmarked while the province waits for the city to finalize its plans.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said he was happy to see long-term funding for LRT projects in Alberta’s two largest cities. While the budget didn’t indicate how much money would be spent on Edmonton’s LRT system, Iveson said the city has a deal with the province.
“We’ve got $1.5 billion confirmed,” Iveson told reporters. “We got the same amount of money Calgary is getting for its Green Line.”
The government said the MSI is still on track to come to an end in 2021-22 and that it will work with municipalities to replace it with a new infrastructure grant program.
READ MORE: What’s in the budget for Edmonton?
The 2018 budget provides millions of dollars for Edmonton health-care facilities this year: $5 million for a new hospital in the city announced in last year’s budget, $13 million for the Misericordia Community Hospital’s modernization program, $15 million for a new child and adolescent mental health building at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and $6 million for the Stollery Children’s Hospital’s critical care program.
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Elsewhere in northern and central Alberta, the Edson Healthcare Centre will receive $5 million this year, Fort McMurray’s residential facility-based care centre will receive $50 million and the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital will receive $126 million. The Red Deer Regional Hospital will share $59 million in new funding for medical instrument cleaning and sterilization unit upgrades with Calgary’s Peter Lougheed Centre.
Watch below: Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci predicts a $1.5-billion reduction from last year’s deficit forecast.
Edmonton will share $2 million this year with Calgary and Lethbridge for courthouse upgrades and renovations.
South of Alberta’s capital, the Red Deer Justice Centre will receive $5 million in funding.
READ MORE: Highlights from Alberta Budget 2018
Sports, arts and recreation
Fort Edmonton Park will receive $14 million in funding this year to help with its expansion. One-million dollars is being spent on upgrades at the Northern Jubilee Auditorium while $6 million will go to the new Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton’s downtown. The government is earmarking $4 million for the Winspear Centre and $4 million for the Telus World of Science.
South of Edmonton, the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin will receive $7 million for a new facility to house its collectibles and preserve its artifacts.
The Municipal Sustainability Initiative, which provides Alberta municipalities with infrastructure grants, is being reduced by a combined $152 million for Calgary and Edmonton, because of the province’s significant financial commitments to those cities’ transportation systems. However, other municipalities will not see their MSI funding reduced. The MSI program will come to an end in 2021-22 but the government says it will work with municipalities to come up with a new infrastructure grant program to replace it.
The 2018 budget will see the government invest $50 million in nine new projects aimed at improving access to “safe, affordable and barrier-free homes for Alberta families.” While details and exact locations of the projects have not yet been announced, one of the projects is expected to be in Edmonton.
Watch below: Provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon breaks down everything you need to know about the budget in one minute