Alberta, federal governments invest in upgrades to 6 provincial buildings in Edmonton, Calgary, Wetaskiwin

Edmonton Remand Centre on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. Dave Carels, Global News

Six provincial buildings in Edmonton, Calgary and Wetaskiwin are about to receive upgrades to increase energy efficiency and extend their lifespan.

More than $11.6 million in federal and provincial money will be spent on upgrades to Government Centre, the Calgary Remand Centre, the Edmonton Remand Centre, the Calgary Correctional Centre, the Old Court of Appeal building in Calgary and the Wetaskiwin Courthouse.

Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda and Jim Carr, the federal government’s special representative for the Prairies, made the announcement Friday morning.

“These investments improve safety, reduce maintenance costs and help ensure that they remain functional and sustainable for years to come,” Carr said.

Panda said the projects will immediately create 65 construction-related jobs for Albertans.

“Replacing a boiler isn’t the sexiest project but it is important skilled trades work that will put food on the table for a few families right here in Calgary and elsewhere in Alberta,” he said.

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Funding for the maintenance and renewal projects comes from the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). The federal program, announced last summer, provides provinces and municipalities with additional federal support for a wide range of infrastructure projects, with the federal government paying 80 cents of each dollar, Carr explained.

“We need to make smart investments now so communities can recover and become more resilient in the long run,” said Carr virtually from his home in Manitoba.

“These projects are the first of many dozens of projects we expect to put forward through the COVID-19 stream,” Panda added. “While the COVID-19 stream does not provide new money for infrastructure projects, it does allow Alberta the flexibility to determine how best to use ICIP money initially allocated to the province and how to maximize federal contributions.”

Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda and the electric heating system in the Old Court of Appeal building in Calgary soon to be replaced by high efficiency boilers. Courtesy, Government of Alberta

Panda said the six buildings were chosen because they require immediate maintenance.

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“One of the recommendations we received from the McKinnon Panel was to extend the life of existing infrastructure before we start building expensive new infrastructure,” he said.

“We looked at shovel-ready projects.”

The federal government’s contribution to these projects is about $9.2 million, Carr said.

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