Edmonton – Municipalities across Alberta are deeply concerned that the provincial government is reneging on its obligation to pay a grant in lieu of tax on government owned and supported social housing. Affordable housing is an issue that Alberta municipalities have long championed, as it is essential to building vibrant, sustainable, inclusive communities.
“This represents a downloading of about $15 million in costs onto the shoulders of municipalities who are already struggling to address infrastructure deficits as a result of shortfalls in federal and provincial funding,” explains Lisa Holmes president of AUMA. “Edmonton and Calgary will be impacted by $5-6 million each, with other municipalities across the province collectively bearing another $4 million in costs. A decision like this means municipalities will have to reduce critical municipal services or increase the taxes for other property owners in order to make up the shortfall.”
The funding reductions impact nearly 23,000 units owned by the Alberta Social Housing Corporation and over 2,200 units owned by municipalities. “We understand that the province is dealing with reduced revenues, but it is unfair and shortsighted for the province to cut funding for something so important,” says Holmes. She points out that it is especially disappointing to see the provincial government cut funding for provincial housing, when one of Premier Notley’s campaign promises included “expanding powersavailable to municipalities to allow them to mandate affordable housing in new development projects, expanding the supply.” Holmes notes that these cuts will have the opposite effect and will reduce, rather than expand, affordable housing supplies.
“Our members are so concerned about the impact this could have on Albertans, that we have passed a resolution that calls for the province’s financial responsibility to be legislated so the province can’t simply change its mind about commitments it has made—commitments that impact the well-being and quality of life for thousands of Albertans—when revenues fall short,” explains Holmes. “There has to be a better option, one that doesn’t jeopardize affordable housing for Albertans who need it.”
Founded in 1905, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association represents all of Alberta’s urban municipalities, including cities, towns, villages, summer villages and specialized municipalities, representing over 85% of Albertans. A dynamic and evolving association, AUMA advocates on behalf of members to provincial and federal government, as well as other stakeholder organizations.