Alberta municipalities will receive an extra $1.1 billion in provincial and federal funding to help post-pandemic recovery efforts.
The province is providing another $500 million in funding to build shovel-ready infrastructure projects this year.
As well, $233 in federal funding will be matched by the Alberta government and will go towards municipalities’ operating costs, along with an additional $70 million in transit funding, Premier Jason Kenney announced in Edmonton on Tuesday.
Kenney estimated the $500 million in infrastructure funding will create about 2,500 jobs.
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is encouraged by the financial support.
“The announcement to match the federal funding for municipal operations is also very welcome,” said Veer.
“I will say the pressure on the operating budget has been significant since the onset of the pandemic.”
Veer said the city won’t know until the fall how big Red Deer’s shortfall will be, but the funding will help alleviate some of the financial pressure.
The mayor said the city boosted its line of credit by $10 million recently in anticipation of the financial challenges to come.
“This (funding) will ideally put us in a position where we wouldn’t necessarily have to draw down as much as anticipated on that line of credit.”
Transit funding will also be helpful in compensating for the revenue losses as ridership plummeted.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said his city’s deficit is heading towards $400 million. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said rising costs and falling revenues mean a $172-million deficit is projected for the end of the year.
Rural Municipalities of Alberta president Al Kemmere was at the Edmonton news conference and praised the partnership of federal, provincial and municipal governments in the face of the pandemic.
“This has been an event that none of us could have even imagined, and it will go down in history,” said Kemmere, who is a Mountain View County councillor.
Kemmere said COVID-19 has had a “tremendous impact” on Alberta’s municipalities, including the 69 counties and municipal districts represented by his association.
“As COVID-19 has created many economic challenges in our society, this announcement is a great demonstration of partnership between all levels of government and will go a long way to help stimulate the Alberta economy,” said Kemmere.
“This will also create an opportunity to address the infrastructure needs and increased operating costs in our rural municipalities, as well as provide much-needed jobs for our residents.”