Edmonton

Alberta hikes funding for cities, towns by $400M

Alberta's Minister for Municipal Affairs Diana McQueen announced Friday the province is allocating $400 million in new money for municipalities for the final quarter of the 2014/2015 fiscal year.

Alberta's Minister for Municipal Affairs says new money brings infrastructure funding to $1.6B

Minister for Municipal Affairs Diana McQueen announced $400 million in new money for large municipal infrastructure projects. (CBC)

Alberta's Minister for Municipal Affairs Diana McQueen announced Friday the province is allocating $400 million in new money for municipalities for the final quarter of the 2014/2015 fiscal year. 

That will increase the 2014 Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding, which helps cities and towns pay for big infrastructure projects, from $1.2 billion  to $1.6 billion.  McQueen added the money was first announced in the government's third-quarter fiscal update released by finance minister Robin Campbell on Feb. 24. 

In a news conference in Red Deer, McQueen said infrastructure dollars will help keep people in jobs during the economic downturn, and the additional funding is intended to be used for new projects. 

But those new projects do not include a new arena for the Calgary Flames.

"These are, you know, the infrastructure projects that are important to the municipalities: the roads, the waters, the sewers, the bridges, those things, but not the arena."

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says the announcement is good news.

"It's a relief to hear the provincial government taking the advice from municipal leaders that now is a good time to invest in infrastructure to deal with growth," he said.

"Edmonton's growth has slowed down, but we're still growing."

The cities won't know until budget day on March 26 whether the money is above the $11.3 billion already committed by the province for the MSI, or is an advance on the money.

"We can't make final decisions with this announcement, but we do have a measure of confidence that the government has heard us," Iveson said.

Last month, the mayors of Edmonton and Calgary expressed concern the province was going to reduce the grant.

“Any infrastructure transfer coming to municipalities is important in order to ensure that the doom and gloom doesn’t come to fruition,” Edmonton mayor Don Iveson said at the time.

McQueen said details about applying for the new funding will be released in the coming weeks.

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