Naheed Nenshi and Don Iveson accept invite to January cabinet meeting
NDP government wants 'increasingly collaborative relationship,' says Premier Rachel Notley
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson are being given the opportunity to present their wish lists to the Alberta NDP cabinet in January.
Premier Rachel Notley said she extended the invitation when the two mayors met with her at the Alberta legislature Wednesday afternoon.
"We want to have an increasingly collaborative relationship and we know that the cities do incredibly important work for the citizens of their cities and, frankly, the province in many ways," Notley said.
The mayors Wednesday discussed the progress of talks on a big city charter, policing costs, mass transit and poverty reduction.
They also talked about how the province and its two biggest cities will fit in to the federal government's plan to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.
Notley said refugees will likely settle in five Alberta cities but the majority will end up in Calgary and Edmonton. Current estimates suggest 2,500 to 3,000 will come to the province but no final decisions have been made.
Iveson said officials are looking to find housing. Luckily, vacancy rates are higher so there is some housing stock available, he said.
"We've had nothing but excellent and open communication with the provincial and federal governments about their evolving plans to meet their resettlement goals," he said.
In the light of job losses in Calgary, especially in the resource sector, Nenshi said the best thing government can do right now is to build infrastructure, especially when labour is available and interest rates are low.
He said Calgary city council will be looking at that approach with next year's budget.
"We will be presenting our capital budget to council next Wednesday and that is a capital budget that is really focused on bringing forward projects and building as much as we can quickly," he said.
Nenshi called Notley's relationship with the cities "refreshing.'
"Having that partnership is really important and something we really appreciate, and I don't even mind having to drive to Edmonton for those meetings," Nenshi quipped.