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Edmonton mayor describes meeting with Premier Kenney before throne speech as ‘positive’

Nov. 1, 2018: The west Valley Line LRT project is one step closer to becoming a reality. The province has stepped up with a major funding commitment. Tom Vernon reports.

Bill 1, the Carbon Tax Repeal Act, prompted one main question from Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. He brought it up in his Wednesday afternoon meeting with Premier Jason Kenney and Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu. The carbon tax had been earmarked has part of the west LRT’s funding.

“In the election, the premier committed to the west LRT, which is great,” Iveson told reporters in the rotunda of the legislature following the Speech from the Throne.

“So we want to nail that down essentially in writing and confirm that and then understand longer term in the city charter what the dollars in nine years out from now that were tied to the carbon revenues… Just get assurances that those are still going to be there, although with a different funding source.”

READ MORE: Government funding confirmed for 2 Edmonton LRT expansions

Edmonton is going to have to wait.

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“We didn’t secure that definitively today, so it’ll be a continuing conversation with government.

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“But the overall tone is, it continues to be supportive of the city’s infrastructure priorities around LRT.”

Watch below: A throne speech, delivered at the Alberta legislature Wednesday, outlines the new United Conservative government’s plans for spring session.

Alberta throne speech focuses on renewal
Alberta throne speech focuses on renewal

Iveson described the meeting as “overall, positive.”

They talked in generalities about the economy and ways to save expenses for both orders of government. Iveson said artificial intelligence can be especially beneficial to the province, both by containing costs especially in health care and by being an economic growth opportunity.

READ MORE: Edmonton partners with Chinese tech incubator on program to expand business opportunities

“We also talked about housing, which is a continued priority for the city and in an area where smart investments from government. The right partnerships can probably save government a lot of money on what in the form of homelessness is driving cost for both local and provincial governments.”

Iveson hopes to get some answers cleared up from a brief mention in the throne speech on the Municipal Government Act, which is always under review.

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“What was mentioned here had to do with being able to vary taxes to support different economic development initiatives.

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“That’s something we asked for in the city charter was some flexibility around that, so we’re looking forward to learning more and want to be consulted to make sure these tools are effective to achieve municipal and provincial goals.”

READ MORE: What Alberta election results – and a mostly NDP Edmonton – could mean for the city

Kenney’s Bill 4, the Red Tape Reduction Act, also struck a chord with the mayor.

“There are a number of fairly cumbersome rules that we think could be streamlined. So we’re going to bring some of those proposals forward that we previously worked out, and believe that there’s some opportunity to stream line things for property owners and streamline the appeal process. So we think there’s quite a bit to do there.”

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