MLA Report: Provincial government has certainly not forgotten Medicine Hat

By Bob Wanner, MLA for Medicine Hat. First published in the Medicine Hat News Sept. 23, 2016.

It’s often said Medicine Hat is "the forgotten corner of Alberta," when it comes to government funding for city projects.

In the last 12 months, nearly $37 million in provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) program funding has been allocated to city-led initiatives, all of which create local jobs. These projects range from the $6.5 million for the Fire Station No. 1 relocation and $9.5 million for the relocation of Fire Station No. 2.

The government is stepping up to the plate and its ministries have not forgotten Medicine Hat.

The MSI funds also include $1 million for the design and engineering work for the revamped Veiner Centre and more than $750,000 towards improving the facilities at the city’s airport, not to mention a recently approved $2.7 million for road rehabilitation work.

Nearly $6 million has been allocated to the city to fund flood protection initiatives in 2016 through the Alberta Resilient Communities Program. In addition to these larger funding projects, the province has also supported community organizations in 2016 with tens of thousands of dollars going towards youth baseball groups, United Way of Southeastern Alberta, Medicine Hat Trap Club and the public library.

The government is stepping up to the plate and its ministries have not forgotten Medicine Hat.

The government has announced over the next few months it will be rolling out a suite of programs under the Climate Leadership Implementation Act. Now is the time for Hatters to look at their homes and businesses to see what they can do to adapt their residences and workplaces to take advantage of the programs which are expected to be announced in the coming months.

The government is indicating these programs will be aimed towards assisting both small- and large-scale renewable energy production along with energy efficiency initiatives. Medicine Hat has a proven track record like few other jurisdictions when it comes adopting solar technology for home and businesses. This city has the best solar potential in the country and some of the finest wind resources.

In addition to renewable resources, the Gas City has access to an abundance of its namesake resource to aid in the transition to greener energy production.

It’s important business and homeowners don’t leave this source of funding on the table. The incentives will allow homeowners and businesses to not only provide financial assistance to make their homes and shops more energy efficient in the short term but provide insulation to their wallets from fluctuating energy prices in the long term. These incentives will be available for all residents of this province and should be taken advantage of as these programs will be funded by Albertans for the benefit of Albertans.

From an economic development perspective, utility-grade renewable energy companies have been exploring opportunities in southeastern Alberta for a decade with several projects in the region shovel ready with several more at various stages in the regulatory approval stage.

This region’s natural gas resources served us well in our first 100 years and renewable resources have the real potential to be an economic development driver for the next century.