If the UCP government follows through on some of the issues being studied by the province’s “Fair Deal Panel,” it could wind up costing Calgarians hundreds of millions of dollars.
That’s according to Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, as city hall’s intergovernmental affairs (IGA) committee approved sending a submission to the panel by the end of the month.
On Thursday, a report to the IGA committee said the city is concerned about a proposal emulating Quebec’s legal requirement that municipalities need to get provincial approval before entering agreements with the federal government.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars — probably billions — will be stuck in Edmonton, subject to the largesse or the political whims of the provincial government. Or most likely would never get spent,” Nenshi said.
The mayor said a recent initiative for affordable housing the city signed with the Liberal government would not have happened under the proposal.
He questions the motives of the “Fair Deal Panel.”
“This entire thing is a distraction from real work that we need to get done in this province. I’m interested in helping make people’s lives get better, not political posturing.”
Premier Jason Kenney set up the panel to look at nearly a dozen initiatives, including an Alberta pension plan, provincial police force and tax collection agency.
Nenshi said the city would face extra costs if those ideas go forward.
“For example, if there’s a separate pension plan or a separate revenue generation agency, that means the City of Calgary is going to have redo our systems, hire people in order to fill out two sets of tax forms, two sets of pension contribution forms and so on.”
He said the increase red tape and create an extra layer of bureaucracy.
Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell agrees with the committee recommendation that the city submit a presentation to the provincial panel, but questions the motivation for the creation of the body.
“My concern is this discussion around a fair deal is a distraction from what’s actually happening within the province.”
Farrell said the province should always be looking to get a better arrangement with the federal government, as should the city seek fairness in decision-making within the province.
“But, I wonder if this is just a distraction. We can’t live on anger. We need solutions, we need to move Calgary forward, we need to move Alberta forward.”
The City of Calgary’s submission to the fair deal panel will be in by the end of the month.