April 27, 2018 5:31 pm
Updated: April 28, 2018 3:32 am

Iveson stresses urgent need for new construction deal with province

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is frustrated that the provincial government isn't making it clear how much money will be available down the road for some critical projects. Vinesh Pratap reports.

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Mayor Don Iveson wrapped up debate on Edmonton’s 10-year capital plan on Friday, raising a level of urgency about the fact some feel the Notley government is causing some money troubles at city hall.

There’s a funding gap, right in the middle of the city’s 10-year plan, because the old system — the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) — is on the way out, and the new one to replace it won’t become legislation until the fall.

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Iveson told reporters Edmonton and Calgary are preparing capital construction budgets that are required by the province to be passed soon. In both cases, that will happen this fall.

But because provincial funding is only guaranteed for the first three years of the four-year plan, the city may need to spread out the money they have over four years, meaning some key projects could be put on hold or scrapped.

“We both (Edmonton and Calgary) have this same problem in year 4 of our four-year plans, which is, we have zero dollars coming where we used to have hundreds of millions of dollars coming in basic infrastructure transfers,” Iveson said.

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“We need to do a lot of work on the Terwillegar (Drive) in the coming years. That’s one of the kinds of projects we might not be able to advance as aggressively as we’d like. The gap in our budget from the cut this time is about the same size as the Lewis Farms rec centre. These are real projects.”

The ward councillors said the turning off of the money taps would cause problems.

Terwillegar Drive handles 40,000 vehicles a day, while Whitemud Drive sees 120,000, said Councillor Tim Cartmell. Cartmell has made a new interchange there, and south into the growing southwest, a priority.

“Investments there are 30 years overdue, and we need to move forward on those investments,” Cartmell said.

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Meanwhile, Councillor Sarah Hamilton said the Lewis Farms rec centre is not only needed for kids’ weekend swim lessons, but also as an anchor for a high school, library and seniors complex.

“If we cancelled it, not only would I be hearing things, but I’m sure other councillors would be hearing from their constituents as well,” she said, “because it takes pressure off the whole system.”

Provincial legislation is expected in the fall, which will reflect a revenue-sharing deal that was referred to in the spring budget.

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