Infrastructure investment makes life better for Whitecourt residents

By Oneil Carlier, MLA for Whitecourt-Ste. Anne and Minister of Agriculture & Forestry.

Our government is committed to making life better for Whitecourt residents and hardworking Albertans. That’s what Albertans deserve and that’s what we’re giving them.

We’re protecting and improving the things that make a difference in their lives which includes municipal infrastructure in Whitecourt-Ste. Anne. While not all of the funding is being provided through direct cash transfer to municipalities, we are funding a number of municipal projects through the New Building Canada Fund. In total, more than $260 million in federal funding and approximately $248 million in provincial funding has been approved for projects that are municipal assets, with more to come.

For example, using this fund we have announced $2.7 million for the Town of Whitecourt’s Athabasca River Erosion Control Project. This is important public infrastructure that protects our community from the threat of flooding. This project is needed to build the safe and resilient Whitecourt we want for our children, grand-children and great-grandchildren.

The dollars from the federal government have been spent to improve the lives of Whitecourt residents - they just haven’t flowed directly to the Town of Whitecourt. I note in the March 8 edition of this publication that Mayor Chichak outlined that the $300 million from the New Building Canada Fund would amount to about $3 million for each municipality in our province. Using this fund, our government has made an investment in Whitecourt roughly that amount.

Our government is committed to making life better for Whitecourt residents and hardworking Albertans.

At the time of the announcement, Mayor Chichak said that "additional funds were well timed to allow us to provide enhanced protection to our residents and businesses."

Far from our government buying a new car with the money from the federal government, we have made an investment in the future of Whitecourt and the protection of its people and businesses.

More municipal projects have been approved but not yet announced. I have assurances from Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Brian Mason that we will also be funding provincial assets through this fund which will directly benefit Alberta‘s municipalities.

I also want to highlight that Alberta contributes significantly more per capita in grant transfers than any other province. We’ve increased funding for grant programs that help fund rural transportation infrastructure, water and transit projects.

Our government has increased and extended funding for Municipal Water and Wastewater and Water for Life, reinstated the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program and established a new transit grant program to replace Green Transit Incentives Program (GreenTRIP).

Whitecourt continues to benefit from these investments in ways that make life better for residents. We have been investing in public infrastructure in Whitecourt. In 2015, we delivered on our commitment to affordable and accessible public transportation through GreenTRIP with more than $1.2 million for new buses and capital improvements to existing transit infrastructure. In 2016, we invested more than $100,000 in funding for upgrades to the wastewater treatment system of the town.

Last December, we committed to opening a dialysis unit in Whitecourt to ensure patients have access to the life-saving treatment locally. We will remain focused on investing in Alberta‘s public infrastructure to continue serving the needs of Albertans today and for generations to come.

Strengthening our local infrastructure is an essential part of our government‘s work in making your life better and as the local representative I will do everything in my power to deliver on that.

First published in the Whitecourt Star, March 15, 2017