Alberta’s NDP government is beginning to reduce its capital spending from previous years as Finance Minister Joe Ceci’s budget, delivered Thursday, indicates a tightening of the province’s fiscal belt. But Rachel Notley’s government still has plans for $26.6 billion in infrastructure spending over five years, much of it for projects and initiatives in Calgary and Lethbridge. Here’s a look at what’s new for the two southern Alberta cities.
The 2018 budget earmarks almost $393 million for 20 new schools, at least one of which will be in Lethbridge. However, the locations of most of the new facilities have yet to be announced.
There is no money earmarked for a high school for the Northern Hills area in Calgary in this year’s budget, something some parents were watching for after holding a rally to call for a school in the area.
Ongoing renovations at the University of Calgary’s MacKimmie Complex will receive $75 million, while the University of Lethbridge’s Destination Project, a massive new science and academic building, will receive $27 million as work ramps up to its expected opening in fall of 2019.
In southeastern Alberta, Medicine Hat College will receive $4 million this year for the development of its east campus.
Ceci’s budget on Thursday revealed the province is investing $4.6 billion over five years on capital health projects. The Calgary Cancer Centre remains the most expensive initiative on this to-do list and Ceci has allocated $295 million to be spent on construction of the facility just this year.
Calgary’s Peter Lougheed Centre will share $59 million in new funding for upgrades to medical instrument cleaning and sterilization units with the Red Deer Regional Hospital. The Peter Lougheed hospital will also receive $9 million for women’s services, renovations, laboratory redevelopment and for its mental health intensive care unit.
The 2018 budget allocates $7 million for the Foothills Medical Centre, plus $15 million to improve the hospital’s power plant capacity.
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ ongoing coverage of the 2018 Alberta budget.
A search through the 2018 Alberta document makes no mention of the Olympics as Calgary continues the bid process for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games but it isn’t clear if that could change and funding could be announced as the bid process advances.
“We’ve set aside some money proactively in our budget should we decide as a government to go down that road,” Ceci said.
WATCH BELOW: Everything you need to know about the budget in one minute
Calgary will share $2 million this year with Edmonton and Lethbridge for courthouse upgrades and renovations.
One million dollars will go to Calgary’s Bow Crow Fire Centre as it undergoes both a renovation and expansion.
The Calgary Remand Centre is getting $3 million for divided living units.
The Kananaskis Emergency Services Centre will get $9 million this year and $7 million will be spent on Alberta first responders’ radio communications system.
North of Calgary, the Red Deer Justice Centre will receive $5 million in funding.
Sports, arts and recreation
The Calgary Zoo will get $3 million this year to help fund its expansion.
The Southern Jubilee Auditorium is receiving $1 million for upgrades.
Five-million dollars is going to Winsport to refurbish its sliding track for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton.
Northeast of Calgary, the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller is getting $5 million to help pay for its expansion.
The Municipal Sustainability Initiative, which provides Alberta municipalities with infrastructure grants, is being reduced by a combined $152 million each year 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 sees the government invest $50 million to support 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 yet to be announced, at least two of the projects are expected to be announced for Calgary and one for Lethbridge.
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. The government announced no new money for Calgary LRT projects on Thursday.
Other Calgary infrastructure funding
Calgary’s Stoney Trail will share $396 million in ring road funding this year with Edmonton’s Anthony Henday Drive. No new flood recovery projects were outlined in Thursday’s budget, but the government committed to spending $163 million on that file this year.