Gateway Gazette

Alberta Mayors Discuss Infrastructure and Legislative Solutions ahead of Provincial Budget

Edmonton – The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) kicked off its two-day spring Mayors’ Caucus Tuesday (March 7), with presentations from key provincial ministers, panel sessions on marijuana legalization and climate change, and a look inside the modern electricity market.

The Honourable Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs started the day with an overview of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) and the provincial government’s plans to bring forward additional amendments to the Municipal Government Act. Minister Anderson’s presentation confirmed that although MSI is set to expire at the end of the month, the province is committed to continuing to provide infrastructure funding to municipalities and will provide additional certainty and details in the 2017 Budget next week. He also indicated that another new Bill will be brought forward in coming weeks to introduce additional changes to the MGA.

“The MSI has been a needed funding source for municipalities since it was first introduced, so we’re pleased that government has committed to ensuring that funding will continue in the 2017 Budget,” says Lisa Holmes, President of AUMA. “Just as important, however, is the commitment to work with municipalities on what the next generation of municipal infrastructure funding looks like. We remain ready to partner with government to develop a new and better approach to ensuring sustainable and predictable infrastructure funding for years to come.”

Event delegates also heard presentations from the Honourable Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, the Honourable Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, and the Honourable Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure. Their presentations provided timely updates on such items as phase out of coal and economic development, the carbon levy and GHG reduction, and federal-provincial infrastructure investment.

Given that municipalities own nearly 60 per cent of Alberta’s public infrastructure but only get 10 per cent of the tax dollars to pay for it, municipal delegates were especially eager to hear how federal-provincial infrastructure would flow in coming months – outside of the MSI envelope – to help them address critical priorities, as well as what role municipalities would play in determining how municipal needs would be included in phase 2 of the federal infrastructure plan.

In the dialogue session on infrastructure, Minister Mason confirmed that municipal infrastructure continues to be a focus for this government. He also confirmed that the phase 2 federal infrastructure funding will be advanced through bilateral agreements and bring $8 billion in funds towards capital projects.

The Mayors’ Caucus continued Wednesday with working sessions on the carbon levy, broadband connectivity, MGA change management and the future of municipal infrastructure funding.

About the AUMA

 

Founded in 1905, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association represents all of Alberta’s urban municipalities, including cities, towns, villages, summer villages and specialized municipalities, as well as municipally related Associate and Affiliate members. Our goal is to develop a strong partnership between all three levels of government through a shared vision, with long‐term planning that facilitates social and economic growth, a strategic and stable funding matrix for capital projects, vital emergency and social services and implementation and coordination in the delivery of services to ensure the long‐term sustainability of Alberta’s municipalities.

 

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