Earlier this week the Government of Alberta unveiled a long anticipated budget. You can see Minister Ceci’s news conference on the budget here:
This budget has a number of highlights for the City of Calgary:
- $830M will be dedicated to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre over 5 years
- $2.96B will be dedicated to Calgary and Edmonton ring roads over 5 years
- $43M to the Calgary Board of Education and $21M to the Calgary Separate School Division
- $4.4B of new funding for Alberta infrastructure projects
- $100M of previously dedicated funds for Municipal Sustainability Initiative over 5 years.
For more information on the Provincial budget, please click here.
The Provincial Government has made a firm commitment to fund the Calgary Cancer Centre. This is a huge positive for Calgarians, and I thank the Province for taking the time to properly consult with stakeholders. Over the summer I received an invitation to discuss plans for the Tom Baker Cancer Centre from Honourable Minister Sarah Hoffman. I spoke on the merits of considering the South Health Campus for the future facility. While ultimately the Foothills Campus was selected, I was still very grateful for the opportunity to participate.
Construction for the Calgary Cancer Centre will begin in 2017. While initially it was planned that this facility could open in 2020, that has now been pushed back to 2023/24 due to a drop in Provincial Government revenues. When fully operational, this facility will offer world class cancer care for Calgarians and people from across Southern Alberta.
The clock on the completion of the SW leg of the ring road is ticking. The land transfer agreement with the Tsuu T’ina Nation mandates that the road must be operational by 2022. The Provincial Government has committed to completing the southwest leg of the ring road by 2022. Ward 12 has seen the tremendous benefit of the ring road in SE Calgary, and residents in SW Calgary should be very excited. The completion of this project will be a huge asset to Calgary’s transportation network.
Additional funding to the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Separate School Division means increased resources for our education system. This funding will allow for 105 new teachers and 78 support staff to be hired in Calgary. With many new schools being built in Ward 12, additional teachers and staff will be very beneficial. As a previous educator, I can appreciate the need to invest in more teachers to provide smaller class sizes and better quality education to our children.
Green Line LRT
The Province announced that $4.4B would be dedicated to future infrastructure projects. It is my belief that Green Line LRT funding would be a leading candidate for this new pot of funding. With one-third of Alberta’s total population, Calgarians should anticipate that some of that funding will go towards Calgary projects. It is also worth noting that one-third of this fund would be roughly $1.5B; the dollar figure required for the Provincial contribution to the Green Line LRT is $1.5B. It will be increasingly important that the City of Calgary position the Green Line LRT at the front of the line for this infrastructure funding.
I was anticipating that Green Line LRT funding would not appear in this budget. I remain optimistic that the $4.4B set aside for infrastructure projects could be ideal for our Green Line LRT funding needs. It is my opinion that the Provincial Government must include a funding announcement for the Green Line LRT in the Spring 2016 budget. There are over 300,000 Calgarians that would immediately benefit from this project that could be operational by 2021. With construction costs and interest rates low, now is the time to move forward on this project. It is estimated that the construction phase of the Green Line could create over 23,000 construction jobs. This does not take into account the additional permanent jobs that would be created to operate our newly expanded LRT network. If the Provincial Government wants to talk about economic stimulus projects, the Green Line will accomplish exactly that.
Aspects of this budget will be debated by Albertans for months to come. I can assure Calgarians that I will continue to lobby the Provincial Government to invest in worthwhile infrastructure projects here in Calgary. The Provincial Government has indicated that they will be releasing an infrastructure sunshine list before the end of the fall legislature session. I intend to continue my discussions with the Province to ensure that the Green Line LRT is front and centre on that list.