On behalf of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), I want to congratulate the City of Red Deer for demonstrating appropriate and responsible use of funding received through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI).
Last year, in the second year of the program, MSI provided $500 million in capital grants to Alberta municipalities. In an effort to better understand the impact of those investments on individual communities, AUMA asked municipalities to submit descriptions of projects that have been approved under MSI to date.
We received responses from 63 communities, detailing 130 diverse projects made possible by MSI.
Every one of these projects responds to the unique needs of each individual municipality. For example, in Red Deer, MSI funds are being used to expand facilities at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre, upgrade the Golden Circle Senior Centre and enhance the park system.
In 2007, the government of Alberta introduced the MSI, a major new 10-year funding commitment intended to help address the growing infrastructure deficit in communities across Alberta.
The MSI was a welcome new tool, not only because it provided municipalities with predictable long-term funding, but also because of its flexibility. Because it allowed greater autonomy for municipal governments, which are best positioned to identify local needs and priorities, we anticipated the program would be a very effective means of ensuring that public investments support the most critical infrastructure needs of Alberta communities.
We were pleased that the recent Alberta budget confirms the government’s continued commitment to providing municipalities with infrastructure funding through MSI. Given the current economic climate, investments in infrastructure are more important than ever. The increased availability of contractors and more favourable pricing make this an advantageous time to address the infrastructure needs of Alberta’s communities. Equally important, investments in capital projects stimulate the economy, creating 11,600 jobs for every billion dollars invested.
While we were disappointed that the level of support for MSI was reduced this year, we recognize that the global recession has constrained funding for all levels of government and are hopeful that funding levels will soon be restored.