Yesterday’s provincial budget announcement means Red Deer will continue to see municipal infrastructure funding for three more years, but it does not fully address regional requests for health and social infrastructure.
“One of our great concerns heading into this budget was the future of Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding. We are pleased that municipal capital funding is stable for now, as The City’s capital plan relies heavily on this source,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “Each year, we build our budgets with community and province building in mind, which necessitates a focus on infrastructure.”
In this year’s provincial budget, there is, however, only $1 million of $4.6 billion in provincial health capital dollars over the next five years, allocated to Red Deer for capital health planning.
“This is a small step in the right direction, but our community efforts are not yet finished because capital dollars for the expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital are not identified in the five-year plan. The study will likely recommend substantial funding, and we cannot wait five years for detailed planning or construction while we are in an emergency situation.”
In addition to a continued commitment of Municipality Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding, the Province is also investing in affordable housing with a commitment to 400 new units shared across eight communities, including Red Deer. The Province also referenced Red Deer College’s degree granting status although there were no specific dollars allocated.
“The Province indicates The City’s major capital grant, MSI, will remain relatively stable over the next three years. We are pleased to see that the province has committed to having a new funding system in place when MSI expires in 2022, and we look forward to working collaboratively with the Province in this planning process,” said City Manager Craig Curtis.
But there are still some unknowns for Red Deer following yesterday’s announcement.
Although the opioid crisis was mentioned, there is no capital funding identified for a shelter or treatment centre in Red Deer.
As it pertains to policing, the province highlighted increased funding for rural policing, but no additional funds for urban policing, which increases a long-standing inequity within the region. However, the Province’s decision to focus on rural crime will help with the overall crime challenges in the region.
“With our location on the QEII between Calgary and Edmonton, crime reduction and community safety continues to be a priority for Red Deer,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “The Province’s decision to focus on rural crime will help in the sense that crime is fluid between borders, but this funding is inequitable as urban centres such as Red Deer continue to focus on crime reduction,” said Veer.
In addition, the province increased funding for the justice centre from $97 million to $181 million and spread this funding out until 2023.
With yesterday’s provincial budget announcement, the amount of education requisition the City of Red Deer is required to collect on behalf of the Province will increase by 1.15 per cent for 2018.
The impact on property tax notices will be calculated in April when the approved municipal operating budget is combined with the education requisition and tax rates are set by Red Deer City Council.
For more information, please contact:
Mayor Tara Veer
The City of Red Deer
Communications & Strategic Planning
The City of Red Deer