Posted on Sep 25, 2020
NOTLEY CALLS FOR MUNICIPAL RESET, HISTORIC INVESTMENT IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING
EDMONTON – Investments in affordable housing, changes to tax collection and negotiating a new fiscal framework were among the ideas proposed for municipalities by Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley on Friday.
In her address to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) Convention in Calgary, Notley called on Jason Kenney and Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard to reset the province’s relationship with municipalities, one described as broken, and invest in their economic recovery.
“So far, the UCP’s approach to supporting municipalities has hovered somewhere between condescension and outright disrespect,” said Notley. “Municipalities deserve a real plan for diversification that engages elected leaders to act locally and grow their strengths while pivoting to new opportunities because there cannot be an economic recovery in Alberta without municipalities at the table.”
Municipal Affairs Critic Joe Ceci said he was disappointed he didn’t hear more firm commitments in the UCP’s presentations to AUMA.
“Today was Jason Kenney’s opportunity to turn over a new leaf,” said Ceci. “Instead, the UCP continues to ignore the specific challenges municipalities are facing on both the economy and on COVID-19, all while continuing to re-announce inadequate investment programs, download more costs and warn of a fiscal reckoning. It’s a bad omen for the future.”
In her remarks, Notley shared five ideas the Alberta NDP would pursue to help municipalities:
- Historic Investment in Affordable Housing: The Alberta NDP would undertake the most significant investment in affordable housing this province has ever seen. This would not only create jobs, it would help address social challenges and support Albertans devastated by COVID-19.
- Waive Infrastructure Matching: The Alberta NDP would create a program to ensure that municipalities have access to the fiscal resources they need to meet tripartite agreements. Some municipalities are forced to leave federal funding on the table because they cannot afford their matching portion. Alberta would cover that portion where the project is shovel-ready.
- Fix Education Property Tax: Currently, municipalities are forced to pay the province for education property taxes they can’t collect because of default. This creates additional challenges at a time when defaults are going up. The Alberta NDP would suspend that requirement for two years.
- Negotiate New Fiscal Framework: The Alberta NDP would set out a process to renegotiate a modern fiscal framework with municipalities that reflects the realities of COVID-19. Municipalities need long-term funding certainty, not continued downloading of costs from the province.
- Invite Municipalities to Help Build An Economic Plan: The Alberta NDP would build an economic plan with cities, not without them, as the UCP have done. Cities all have their own economic plans. We would bring them together, and build one plan for all of Alberta.