Edmonton

Alberta premier claims a UCP government will charge tolls on roads

The United Conservative Party will make Albertans pay tolls on the province's highways if they form government Premier Rachel Notley claimed in a partisan speech to an industry convention in Edmonton Thursday.

UCP says Jason Kenney's user fee idea only applies to new, not existing, industrial infrastructure

Premier Rachel Notley says Jason Kenney's plan for user fees on infrastructure means road tolls, a plan she is against. 1:08

The United Conservative Party will make Albertans pay tolls on the province's highways should the party form government, Premier Rachel Notley claimed in a partisan speech to an industry convention in Edmonton Thursday.

Notley, who is running for re-election this spring, said  in a speech to the Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association that her chief opponent, UCP Leader Jason Kenney, told the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce recently that he wanted to add user fees to infrastructure projects. 

Notley says that means only one thing — tolls. 

"Tolls when you ship your equipment from places like Leduc to the Heartland. Tolls when workers commute," she said.

"Tolls on the weekend, when you head to Costco, to soccer, anywhere. Tolls that will only hurt businesses and families in the Industrial Heartland, not help.

"Which is why Mr. Kenney's plan for tolling your bridges and highways is wrong for Alberta. I will say 'no' every time to tolls.'"

The UCP said the NDP was engaging in fear-mongering to distract voters from its record. Party spokesperson Christine Myatt said Kenney never suggested charging tolls for existing public infrastructure.  

"What Jason spoke about is similar to the policy framework that's used in most other jurisdictions to meet infrastructure needs — only the NDP is taking an ideological government-only approach to infrastructure," she said in a written statement. 

"[The] UCP has never suggested applying tolls to existing public infrastructure. We need to find new and creative approaches for needed *industrial* infrastructure."

Made in Alberta 

The claim about tolls was the highlight of a speech that Notley used to highlight her Made-in-Alberta energy strategy, reiterating her government's commitment to pipelines and diversification. 

"There is no good reason why my kids or your kids, 30 years from now, need to be sitting around their kitchen tables wishing we had done more to diversify," Notley said.

"I think the time has come to dramatically accelerate energy diversification in Alberta.

"With an election around the corner, I would also be remiss if I didn't also talk to you about why the next Alberta election is a clear choice between our plan to diversify for a stronger future and some of my opponents' positions which would be to bring our diversification work to a screeching halt." 

The premier has been frustrated with Ottawa's efforts to get a pipeline to tidewater, particularly since she is facing an election this spring.

The federal government bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project last year.

But a ruling from the Federal Court of Canada put the project on hold until the government held additional talks with First Nations and performed more research into marine safety issues.

The government's Made-in-Alberta strategy includes refining more oil and processing more natural gas into products that are in demand.

Last month, the premier announced the province was seeking expressions of interest from companies willing to build a refinery in Alberta. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 8.

"Alberta has never been afraid to go it alone," Notley said Thursday. 

"We're using our powers to respond decisively to the punishing consequences of Ottawa's failures, with a plan for the short, medium and long term.

"In the short term, we have limited our oil production to bring down the differential but we know this is very temporary." 

Last week, Notley visited Inter Pipeline's $3.5-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex near Fort Saskatchewan, one of the first projects to receive assistance under the province's Petrochemicals Diversification Program. The complex will make polypropylene, used in a wide range of plastic products.