Province funds key city interchange project

The south entrance into Red Deer is about to get a long-awaited face lift.

The south entrance into Red Deer is about to get a long-awaited face lift.

The NDP government inked $100 million over five years for the Hwy 2 and Gaetz Avenue interchange project in the 2016 budget.

The city has been advocating for changes to improve safety and to accommodate growth at the interchange for close to 10 years.

Mayor Tara Veer and city officials will address the specific impacts of the provincial budget on the municipality at a press conference today.

But Veer said funding for this project was the most favourable component in the provincial budget for Red Deer.

She said if the funding was not allocated this year it would have closed off the option on the project beyond 2019.

Meanwhile Red Deer College president Joel Ward said he pleased that the province followed through on its promise to boost post-secondary grants by two per cent and to continue the tuition freeze for students.

He said there is opportunity in this budget for joint provincial and federal infrastructure projects.

He said it is a positive budget and one where the college is not forced to make tough decisions around people and programs as it has had to do over the last few years.

He said the province realizes more people are coming back to post-secondary.

“Our applications for next year are already up 13 per cent after we had a 10 per cent increase this year,” he said. “More people need opportunities to be re-skilled and retrained so they are continuing to fund that.”

He is also pleased with the commitment to apprenticeship programs.

Reg Warkentin, Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, policy policy co-ordinator, called the budget a mixed bag with some things that may help businesses. Warkentin said in a lot of ways the government got all the bad things out of the way including the corporate tax and the minimum wage increases.

He said the size of the deficit and the growing debt is concerning.

Warkentin said reducing the small business tax to two per cent from three per cent as of Jan.1 is an improvement.

“Every little bit helps small business,” he said. “We know the vast majority of businesses in Alberta are small business. It’s great to see them do that. There are a number of things in there that are going to help. We saw the entrepreneur program. They will help get people up and running.”

He noted the small investor tax credit is a huge win.

“Access to capital for businesses wanting to grow or starting out is the biggest issue we hear about,” he said. “I think it is a really smart move.”

But the Don MacIntyre, the Wildrose MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, said the Wildrose is incredibly disappointed to see “this risky and ideological NDP budget” in a press release.

He said it shows no plan to get Alberta back to a path of fiscal sustainability, and accepts ballooning debts and deficits and acceptable.

“The impact for everyday Albertans and their families will be devastating,” he said. “From higher costs to driving your car or heating your home because of the carbon tax, to interest payments paid by typical Albertans because of the NDP government’s risky borrowing, this budget is reckless.”

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer area businesses recognized at Business of the Year Awards night

“It’s an honour just to be nominated.” The popular words echoed throughout… Continue reading

Child sex offender should get 12 years: Crown prosecutor

Stuart Peter Hunt has pleaded guilty to 10 child sexual exploitation and pornography charges

Legalizing cannabis cost estimate for Red Deer just under $400k

Although the province of Alberta has announced $11.2 million for cannabis legalization,… Continue reading

WATCH: Every square tells a story: Edmonton expert is exploring Red Deer’s quilting history

Community members can bring in family heirloom quilts for documentation

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis cancelled after tax case

BEIJING — The director of “Air Strike,” featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing,… Continue reading

Michael Buble shuts down rumours of retirement from music

LOS ANGELES — Michael Buble is shutting down rumours that he’s going… Continue reading

After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of the world

MONTREAL — Cam Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s… Continue reading

Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In an otherwise innocuous part of Facebook’s expansive… Continue reading

Military to overhaul morale-boosting trips after review finds serious problems

OTTAWA — Canada’s top general is overhauling military morale-boosting tours after an… Continue reading

Police hand out a few hefty fines for allegedly violating Cannabis Act

The celebratory mood that marked the legalization of recreational cannabis lost a… Continue reading

PHOTO: Say goodbye to City Hall Park flowers

A sure sign that winter is on its way is when City… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Most Read