After two years of inquiries by the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) into the provincial and federal government’s plans for the Building Canada Fund, municipalities are now finding out $300 million originally intended for municipalities has been intercepted by the Government of Alberta.
City of Wetaskiwin mayor Bill Elliot attended the AUMA 2017 Spring Mayors’ Caucus on March 7 and 8, and said in an interview with the Pipestone Flyer, “The government chose to spend this money on provincial projects. Initially it was supposed to go to municipalities, that’s what we were told by the federal government … We thought it should have gone to the municipalities.”
Elliot says, while the money will still go to necessary projects, he feels it should have been left up to the municipalities to decide exactly where the funds are allocated.
A letter from AUMA president Lisa Holmes — dated Feb. 27, 2017 — to the members of the association states only 10 per cent of the $942 million Building Canada Fund for Alberta was formally allocated to municipalities thought the federal Small Communities initiative. Of the more than 300 project submitted requesting a portion of the funding 53 projects were approved.
The letter goes on to read, “AUMA has advocated municipal projects be funded through Alberta’s $848 million provincial/regional envelope. While some progress was made through the approval of $148 million for the Wood Buffalo airport and Edmonton LRT, AUMA undertook further advocacy which led the minister to state in the legislature in May 2016 that $300 of the remaining $700 million in the envelope would be used for municipal projects.”
Town of Millet mayor Tony Wadsworth and CAO Teri Pelletier were also in attendance of the mayors’ caucus.
“They’re doing some funny things … Instead of sending the money down, it sounds like to the municipalities, which I believe was the intent, the provincial government is going ‘Now we’re going to keep it because we need it for our infrastructure,’” said Pelletier.
“Municipalities account for 60 per cent of the capital asset value in the province, and yet the province is 40 per cent and taking all the money,” said Wadsworth.