Mayor Nenshi's statement on the provincial budget
Today, the Government of Alberta released its 2015 budget. Below is a statement from Mayor Naheed Nenshi about how this budget affects The City of Calgary and Calgarians.
For The City of Calgary, we will be able to manage the impact of this budget. We are pleased that the MSI grants have been maintained and will slightly increase this year, which will allow us to keep people working and building much-needed infrastructure. We will release details soon, but we believe that this allotment will allow us to continue and slightly accelerate major projects such as the Macleod/162nd interchange.
We are also pleased with the increase of funding for the Calgary Public Library. However, the Province continues to freeze funding to Family and Community Support Services, and this is a downloading of social services on municipalities. The Province has been falling far short for years on this, and we continue to bear the brunt of providing services that are not our responsibility.
One interesting element of this is that the increase in gas tax hits the city hard. I won't be able to fill my tank before midnight, but hopefully other city vehicles will! Because we fill so many tanks of gas, this four cent increase will cost the city about $2 million per year.
We are also pleased with the commitment to continue building the SW ring road, and the cost of this road seems to have significantly decreased. We'll continue to work with the province to get this done.
I also remain concerned about the impact of the budget on all Calgarians. Cuts to health care, to post-secondary education, and increases in taxes have the potential of hurting the most vulnerable and we must be vigilant to make sure that we, as a community, support those at risk. For example, I am concerned about the impending closure of the Calgary Young Offender Centre, and I will be discussing the impact of these cuts with the Government of Alberta.
I should also mention that this whole budgeting process, common to many governments in Canada, is strange. For The City of Calgary to wait until a speech is made and then quickly process all these budget documents is bizarre. The City's process, in which we release a draft budget to the public and discuss and debate and amend for weeks, just seems to be a smarter, more transparent way of doing this.
- Mayor Naheed Nenshi