Advertisement

Alberta Budget 2019: What’s in it for Calgary and Lethbridge?

Alberta Budget 2019: Nenshi says UCP has ‘some explaining to do’ after 2019 budget cuts
WATCH: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the UCP has broken a promise as part of the 2019 Alberta budget.

The United Conservatives’ first provincial budget focuses on jobs and includes an overall spending cut of 2.8 per cent over the next four years.

READ MORE: Alberta budget 2019 includes cuts to cities, civil servants, universities

Here’s a look at how Calgary and Lethbridge will be affected.

LRT funding delayed

While the province will honour the $3-billion funding commitment for Edmonton and Calgary LRT projects, most of the money won’t come until after 2022-23.

By then, Calgary will have received just $75 million from the province.

“The remainder of the $1.53 billion of promised provincial funding will come in the years following,” Brooklyn Elhard, press secretary for the ministry of transportation, said.

“All of Edmonton’s money will flow outside of the four-year Capital Plan.”

Story continues below advertisement

That means Calgary will receive roughly five per cent of its promised funding from the province in these four years. The rest is being deferred.

Alberta Budget 2019: UCP budget could have serious implications for CTrain service
Alberta Budget 2019: UCP budget could have serious implications for CTrain service

These transit projects receive funding from all three levels of government so the Alberta government said it expects federal funding will keep these projects going until provincial funds kick in.

Petrochemical, partial upgrading, lab projects cancelled

The budget removed several projects including capital grants through the Petrochemical Feedstock Infrastructure Program ($800 million), the Partial Upgrading Program ($215 million), the Edmonton Clinical Laboratory Hub ($579 million), the Alberta Community Transit Fund “and other short-term carbon tax-funded programs,” the Provincial Operations Centre and the Alberta Community Resilience Program after 2020-21.

Alberta Budget 2019: Nenshi says budget puts Green Line in jeopardy
Alberta Budget 2019: Nenshi says budget puts Green Line in jeopardy

Road work

The budget commits $77 million for Highway 1A upgrades through Stoney First Nation.

The budget sets aside $210 million for Deerfoot Trail upgrades.

Public sector job cuts

Approximately 210,000 people work in the civil service across Alberta in departments as varied as Fish and Wildlife, education, Alberta Health Services, Justice and tourism.

Premier Kenney previously said that force would be reduced by 10 per cent. The budget outlines a 7.7-per-cent cut, which translates to about 800 full-time positions.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Winners and losers in Alberta budget 2019

Public library support

The UCP government will maintain funding for public libraries across Alberta.

Funding for municipalities (MSI)

The Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) was set to conclude at the end of 2021-22. The UCP government will maintain that funding for this year (2019-20) but it will change the following year.

In 2021, it will be reduced by $94 million and in 2022, it will be reduced by $142 million.

That means this government will provide $236 million less than what the NDP promised in 2018.

READ MORE: Alberta Budget 2019: What’s in it for Edmonton?

The province says it will work with local governments to develop a new fiscal framework. (See Local Government Fiscal Framework Act below).

Changing City Charter

The UCP government will repeal the City Charters Fiscal Framework Act and replace it with the Local Government Fiscal Framework Act.

The budget explains the city charter only applied to Edmonton and Calgary and it will develop a new act that will cover all municipalities. That will come into force in 2022-23, which is also when MSI funding declines and is phased out.

Story continues below advertisement

Under the Local Government Fiscal Framework Act, Alberta municipalities will receive $860 million in 2022-23. After that, the amount will fluctuate based on the provincial government’s revenue.

The estimate is that in 2022-23, Edmonton will receive $184 million, compared to $271 million for Calgary. The remaining $405 million will be split between all other Alberta municipalities, based on a formula to be developed at a later date.

Property taxes paid on Crown land to cities cut in half

A program that gives cities a bit more revenue is changing. The Grants in Place of Taxes (GiPOT) sees the province provide grants to municipalities in lieu of property taxes on Crown lands and buildings. Crown properties are tax exempt.

The budget outlines that, to align with other provinces, GiPOT will be reduced by 25 per cent in 2019-2020 and a further 25 per cent in 2021.

That means, for the 2019-20 year, $45 million will still be paid in GiPOT to municipalities across Alberta, and $30 million will be paid in 2021.

READ MORE: Highlights from Alberta budget 2019

Calgary will be the second-hardest hit city, after Edmonton. In 2021, the cut translates to $5 million – or 0.3 per cent of Calgary’s total property tax revenue.

Communities where GiPOT accounts for more than five per cent of property tax revenue will be exempt from this change. There are five municipalities that qualify.

Story continues below advertisement

Calgary health-care centres

Funding promised for the emergency room at the Peter Lougheed Hospital will be maintained.
Funding for Calgary Cancer Centre will continue.

Fighting crime and supports for justice system

As promised on the election campaign, Alberta will spend $10 million on 50 new prosecutors. Some have already been hired and more will be added over the four-year period.

The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team, of ALERT, will receive $50 million over four years. This was also a campaign promise.

The budget also outlines $20 million for the drug treatment court, which was previously announced.

For the 2019-20 year, $2 million has been earmarked for courthouse renovations in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge.

Completing the Destination Project at University of Lethbridge

A grand opening was recently held for the Destination Project at the University of Lethbridge.

The budget includes $7 million in 2019-20 for this building, which is nearly complete.