July 20th, 2024

Municipalities ask UCP for more infrastructure money

By Lethbridge Herald on September 28, 2023.

Traffic travels across the Highway 3 bridge, which had at one point been consider as an infrastructure project for the city. Herald file photo

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Alberta Municipalities organization has passed a resolution calling on more provincial funding for local infrastructure.

The resolution passed on Thursday with 98 per cent of the votes cast in favour by 800 delegates at its convention in Edmonton.

The subject was a big one with ABMunis which held two press conferences this week to discuss it.

On Wednesday, Cathy Heron, ABMunis president and mayor of St. Albert, told media that substantially more funding is needed.

“Unless the provincial government allocates more funding for local infrastructure, municipalities will be unable to keep Alberta as the more affordable option and a better place to live and work than any other province in Canada,” Heron said.

The resolution was brought forward by the ABMunis board of governors and called on the UCP to allocated an additional $1 billion per year in baseline funding for local infrastructure.

“We want the provincial government’s Alberta’s Calling campaign to succeed but it will take more funding for local infrastructure, not just glossy ads and persuasive marketing from the government of Alberta to do it.

“We all support the government of Alberta’s campaign to have more people move to our province and at the same time, we must ask where are these new Albertans going to live, where are they going to go to school and where will they recreate,” said Heron.

If goals are going to be achieved, that new funding is needed, she said.

Heron said provincial government funding on infrastructure has dropped from 3.7 per cent of total spending a decade ago to just one per cent today.

“Provincial funding for local infrastructure has dropped from about $420 per Albertan in 2011 to about $150 per Albertan in 2023, a decrease of more than $270 for every Albertan,” Heron said.

This represents about $1.3 billion less in investment in community infrastructure every year, said Heron.

The requested increase would bring that investment up to $1.75 billion per year.

In a release issued after the vote, Heron said “I speak for the entire Alberta Municipalities board when I say we are delighted that so many of our members voted in favour of this resolution. 

“I’m also grateful for the support our association has received on this issue from other key stakeholders who joined us yesterday to call on the Government of Alberta to increase the base funding level for the Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) from $722 million to $1.75 billion a year. Municipalities need fair funding so we can help deliver the quality of life that Albertans expect and deserve.”

Funding presently comes from Alberta’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative which has allocated more than $15.2 billion since the program launched in 2007. In 2024, the MSI is being replaced by the Local Government Fiscal Framework which the province says will include $722 million in capital funding.

Today, the convention will hear speeches from both premier Danielle Smith and Opposition leader Rachel Notley. 

A contingent of Lethbridge representatives is at the convention including several members of city council.

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Southern Albertan

We’re still trying to catch up from the $20-30 billion infrastructure debt left for us from the Klein era. Now, we’re dealing with UCP cutbacks to municipal funding. Rural municipalities are owed ‘$millions’ in unpaid oil and gas sector taxes owed, which the Kenney UCP brushed off.
In the meantime, $millions of our tax dollars are being spent by the Smith UCP on promoting an unwanted APP and fighting the feds on clean electricity regulations. And, the use of the Sovereignty Act re: fighting clean energy is being considered…crazier than a hoot owl.