Tuesday evening was a historical day for Albertans. For the first time since 1971 we see a new party forming government. Campaigns are times for promises, and this last campaign was no different. Prior to the election Mayor Nenshi unveiled the results from his “Cities Matter” questionnaire.
The questionnaire was designed to identify how each party would address the issues and challenges facing Calgary. There was a lot of content in the questionnaire, but I have pulled out some of the responses that caught my eye. Only time will tell if the new government is able to follow through on some of these commitments. I look forward to working with the new provincial government and it is my hope that together we can help make Calgary and even better place.
Below you will find some of the NDP responses to the questions and my commentary from “Cities Matter”:
Question: How would your party provide long-range, sustainable, predictable capital funding for Alberta’s large cities?
Answer: One of the core parts of Rachel Notley’s plan for our province is to ensure that Alberta is able to get off the resource revenue rollercoaster once and for all. More details as to our plan for provincial revenue can be found in our platform at:http://www.albertandp.ca/platform. They include progressive personal income tax rates for high earners, no health levy, and a modest increase in income taxes for large, profitable corporations.
We have also committed to ensuring that the province’s transfers to municipalities remain stable and predictable, and that growth pressures are factored in when these funding decisions are made. For major granting programs including MSI, we would commit to a stable envelope of funding. For GreenTRIP, Alberta’s NDP will be taking a significant portion of the capital funding earmarked by the PCs for carbon capture and storage (once termed a “science experiment” by Jim Prentice), and moving $250 million into investment in public transit infrastructure, with other, more stable funding to come in future years as we carefully review the existing capital plan in a transparent manner.
We believe we must remove partisan choices from capital allocation decisions and to do so we have committed to the Infrastructure Sunshine List which will restore public accountability to the provincial capital plan. This will support more collaborative capital funding arrangements with municipalities.
Alberta’s NDP will provide leadership on the issue of climate change and make sure Alberta crafts solutions with stakeholders such as municipalities, as well as with other provinces and the federal government. Building more walkable, transit friendly neighbourhoods will help address climate risks as well as make growth in property assessment more financially sustainable for municipalities. The property tax municipalities receive from growth in assessment is not sufficient to finance the cost of servicing that growth. One reason in part, is because growth is often low density in nature.
Alberta’s property tax system has not been comprehensively reviewed for far too long. The processes of determining assessments and the administration of the property tax system need to be updated to meet the needs of the province as well as local authorities in the 21st century.
Stable and predictable transfers to the municipal government is a very good thing. With a predictable level of funding it removes some uncertainty from our own budgeting process. I am very supportive of exploring ways in which the provincial government can offer additional funding to local transit infrastructure improvements. $250 million is a good first step, but we will need more from the province in order to bring LRT to the Greenline in southeast and north-central Calgary.
Question: What are your plans for cancer treatment in Calgary?
Answer: The split-site plan that Stephen Mandel and Jim Prentice have proposed to Calgarians (and by extension Southern Albertans) is not what has been promised to the region since 2005. This is not a comprehensive, single-site, under-one-roof cancer care centre. The lack of a comprehensive, single-site facility will be especially felt by high or complex needs patients, who may not be able to procure all of the services they need at one or the other facilities.
Rachel Notley has stated that an NDP government will include the Foothills cancer centre in its first budget and begin construction as soon as possible, based on the original plan, rather than the PCs’ new plan for downgrading and splitting the facilities.
Making a single site at Foothills obviously has a direct impact on Ward 12. I believe that it would be more cost efficient that the cancer centre be developed on a single site, but I believe that site should be at the South Health Campus. In many of my previous conversations it was determined that the South Health Campus was a more cost efficient site and would be a better fit.
The City of Calgary will be working with a very different provincial government for the first time in nearly 50 years. I intend to make sure that the concerns of my constituents are shared with our provincial colleagues and that we find a way to work together and solve some of these problems. You can find the rest of the NDP responses to “Cities Matter” here.