By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on August 10, 2018.
Summer activities have been keeping me busy. This is the time of year I really enjoy because it means more time to spend with you and hear about the issues that are important to you. It also gives me an opportunity to talk about the ways our government is working for you.
Just last week, it was great to have Premier Rachel Notley participate in the grand opening of our Legacy Regional Park, the first major regional park in north Lethbridge, which received $12.75 million in provincial funding through the MSI. This is out of the total $22.6 million invested in this park.
It was wonderful to take part in this ceremony and see the enthusiasm generated by this spectacular new park, which includes 73 acres, a lake and 1,300 trees, skate park and pickleball courts. I can only offer hearty congratulations to City Parks Manager David Ellis, mayors, managers and city councillors past and present, and all those in the community who offered suggestions over the years to bring this vision to fruition.
Premier Notley and I also had a good visit with Lethbridge Family Services, to meet with co-ordinators and staff and thank them for helping individuals and families navigate through some very difficult circumstances. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the efforts of all those on the front lines of social work and the dedication you all have in the welfare of Albertans.
The conversations I have with you during these visits, at events and even on your doorstep, are what help our government shape policy and legislation. It also gives me the opportunity to clear up misinformation about important steps we have made to move our province forward.
One of the common questions I get asked by residents on the doorstep are about the carbon levy. The Climate Leadership Plan is a made-in-Alberta plan >and is made to work for Albertans and our economy. For the last three years we have worked side by side with industry to get it right.
We are not handing the keys to our industry over to the federal government because our model has to support Alberta. In fact, Ottawa is following our lead as they are setting emission targets which are almost identical to ours.
So, where is the money from the carbon levy going? For starters, more than 60 per cent of Alberta households will have it come right back to them in the form of rebates ($1.4 billion). Also, $440 million is being allocated to oilsands innovation; $225 million for research into new technologies that reduce emissions; $240 million for industrial energy-efficiency projects that help companies save money while upgrading equipment or facilities to lower energy use; $63 million in grants for bioenergy projects including biodiesel and ethanol; $400 million in loan guarantees to support investment in efficiency and renewable energy.
You may ask what does this mean to me? It means we are diversifying Alberta’s economy, creating new jobs, and reducing emissions and pollution.
The UCP say they want to cancel the carbon levy but what they won’t tell you is how it will affect the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Alberta families, especially those in southern Alberta.
Some examples: irrigation rehabilitation, hospital retrofitting would be unfunded. It would erase the Alberta market for carbon offsets and credits which currently have a value in the tens of millions of dollars. These are assets which would be stranded and have no value in Alberta if carbon pricing were cancelled. The broader offsets market – from technical workers to aggregators to financial sector – is estimated to be in the high hundreds of millions of dollars. The market would lose its value overnight and create turmoil for the contractual relationships.
A repeal of the levy would affect us locally; we would lose the small business tax reduction, the consumer rebates, energy-efficiency programming, agriculture, seniors and housing and transit funding. This would have a devastating impact on Lethbridge and the southern Alberta region.
And thanks to the Climate Leadership Plan and Premier Notley’s leadership, we’re closer than ever to getting a pipeline to Canadian tidewater built. We will keep fighting for good jobs in the energy sector and an economy that works for everyone.
I look forward to more conversations with you so don’t hesitate to drop by my office Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., or at other times by appointment. Contact us by telephone at 403-320-1011 or by email at email@example.com. Occasionally there are community events which take all of us out of the office. If you stop by and we are not there, please leave a note in the mail slot and we will get back to you.
As you know there are a multitude of activities every weekend at the Galt Gardens and the other parks and venues throughout the city. This weekend we celebrate Applefest, an annual celebration of the Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association and all its initiatives.
There is also a Thursday lunch at the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association – check their website and see what is on the menu.
Maria Fitzpatrick is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge East. Her column appears monthly.
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