City wary about new funds; wants to see provincial budget

Local municipal officials are waiting until the provincial budget is released before declaring a boost to capital project funding a win for Red Deer.

BY CRYSTAL RHYNO

Advocate staff

Local municipal officials are waiting until the provincial budget is released before declaring a boost to capital project funding a win for Red Deer.

In Red Deer on Friday, Diana McQueen, the minister of Municipal Affairs, announced a $400 million boost to the Municipal Sustainability Initiative, bringing the total funding to $1.6 billion for 2014-2015.

In 2014, Red Deer received $24.1 million in MSI funding, including $6 million from the basic municipal transportation grant that was rolled into the envelope.

MSI funding is earmarked for infrastructure projects, including water and sewer, bridges and roads.

McQueen said the province is preparing for some tough budgets over the next few years due to the drop in oil prices.

But she said she has heard consistent messages from municipalities about the importance of infrastructure and the need for the continued funding for local projects.

“Our government shares your concern,” said McQueen at the press conference. “We agree that strategic infrastructure investments will not only ensure that Albertans will keep working, it means the infrastructure needed to support further economic growth — roads, water and sewer projects — will be there when we need it.”

McQueen said the province is committed to an $11.3-billion investment in the fund for municipalities. She said the picture, including the time frame, will be much clearer on March 26 when the provincial budget is announced.

Both Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and city manager Craig Curtis applauded the province for recognizing the importance of infrastructure for Alberta and municipalities.

Curtis said without it, the provincial economy slows down.

“However, this does not indicate to us at this time whether this is gain for us,” said Curtis. “While it may be a gain in the budget up to April, if there is a reduction in the portion after April it could be just a balance. We have to wait and see what impact it has on our budget.”

Curtis said the city will not be applying for new projects until it sees the full financial picture from the province. “Obviously until we see the total picture, we won’t be applying for additional projects. We have all already assumed the allocation for 2015.”

Veer said it is an indication that the minister has heard a consistent message that core infrastructure is a priority for municipalities across the province.

“Obviously the province has been cautioning municipalities and Albertans about the provincial economy,” said Veer. “So there will be aspects that we will by necessity reserve judgment on until we see the impacts on the City of Red Deer when the provincial government comes on March 26.”

The city will use the MSI funding for more road projects and to build the two new fire stations in 2015.

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood said the county welcomes the funding. He said it will allow the municipality to continue to do the work necessity and to complete projects faster than they would have otherwise.

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association board member Buck Buchanan, a Red Deer city councillor, said this shows that the government is listening to what the municipalities are saying.

Clearwater County Coun. Earl Graham, who sits on the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, echoed Buchanan’s thoughts.

He said MSI funding is a critical component of the budgets for rural municipalities.

Since the MSI grant program was first introduced in 2007, the provincial government has allocated $6 billion of its total $11.3 billion commitment and has assisted with more than 4,800 projects.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was in Red Deer Wednesday and addressed a number of different political topics affecting central Alberta. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Notley talks RDC, UCP draft K-6 curriculum in visit to Red Deer

Rachel Notley had only proposed a solution hours before she arrived in… Continue reading

Photo by RANDY FIEDLER/Advocate staff BUDGET RURAL MEDICINE 2 - Dr. Fred Janke in his Sylvan Lake practice Wednesday. for story
Sylvan Lake doctor formerly accused of child sex crimes can practise again

Crown prosecutors dropped all charges against Dr. Fred Janke last November

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

This post is visible on a central Alberta business’s Facebook page. (Image from Facebook)
UPDATED: Rocky Mountain House store bars vaccinated customers

‘No proof the vax works and no proof it does not shed’

Red Deer community builder and Korean War veteran Don Holloway (shown here with his wife, Sylvia), died at the age of 88. (Photo courtesy of the City of Red Deer)
One of Red Deer’s last known Korean War veterans has died

Don Holloway, who died at age 88, was the city’s Honorary Senior Citizen in 2020

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

Letisha Reimer is shown in a photo, part of a memorial to her outside Abbotsford Senior Secondary School in Abbotsford, B.C., Monday, Nov.7, 2016. A B.C. Supreme Court judge is expected to deliver her decision today over whether a man who stabbed two high school students is not criminally responsible because he had a mental disorder. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geordon Omand
Judge to rule on criminal responsibility of man who stabbed two B.C. students

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — A British Columbia Supreme Court judge is expected… Continue reading

File photo
Expert says Saskatchewan should consider more targeted vaccine plan as variants surge

SASKATOON — Nazeem Muhajarine says he feels a sense of relief after… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising Canada will slash its… Continue reading

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
More supply needed to ease housing price crunch, but always more to do, Freeland says

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the country needs a boost… Continue reading

Smoke pours from the stacks at the Portlands Energy Centre in Toronto on Thursday January 15, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Risk experts say climate change to take big chunk of Canadian economy by 2050

One of the world’s largest insurers says Canadians will be more than… Continue reading

A Blanding’s turtle (Gabrielle Fortin/Contributed)
Earth Day: Finding hope in an old sweater

During the pandemic, many of us have spent several months at home.… Continue reading

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says 1.7 million reusable masks have been ordered at a cost of $4.2 million.” (Advocate file photo).
Alberta teachers and education minister swap accusations of politicizing curriculum

EDMONTON — Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says the group representing Alberta teachers… Continue reading

FILE - In this March 19, 2021, file photo, people take pictures of the Olympic rings installed by the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo. The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated. This of course is spilling over to concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that open in just over three months.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)
Olympic bodies launch competitive series in virtual sports

Olympic body hopes to reach more young people

Most Read