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Edmonton, Calgary mayors issue statement concerning transit legislation

(PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The mayors of Calgary and Edmonton have released a joint statement on a piece of provincial legislation affecting major transit projects, including Calgary’s Green Line LRT.

It concerns Bill 20–an omnibus bill on taxes and fiscal measures that also includes a clause that the province can cancel all funding for the projects without cause.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson write that they appreciate the province is trying to balance the budget, and while there is a commitment to complete these projects, they remain concerned about how the funding is being spread out.

“We strongly urge the Government of Alberta to amend Bill 20 to allow future municipal funding growth tied fully to provincial revenues at a one-to-one ratio which would allow municipalities to increase investment in needed infrastructure when revenue is positive, and make necessary adjustments during more challenging times,” reads the statement.

RELATED: Provincial bill casts further doubt on Green Line LRT

“Without this complete indexing connection, from an inflationary perspective, municipalities will be left behind.”

Nenshi has said this change in the timing puts the project at risk.

“For us to succeed as a municipality and as a province, we need to continue to invest in our communities and social and physical infrastructure. Long-term stable, predictable, and appropriate funding for municipalities must be a part of that strategy,” said Nenshi.

The budget only promises $75 million for the Green Line over the next four years, despite the province needing to commit a total of $1.5 billion up to its planned completion in 2026.

“Bill 20 effectively downgrades the role of municipalities just when partnership is needed more than ever,” said Iveson.

“Just as the Premier has repeatedly called on the federal government to issue Albertans a “fair deal” to drive Canada’s prosperity, municipalities are asking for their “fair deal” to be full partners in supporting economic recovery and growth. We share the same ambition with the provincial government for a strong and prosperous Alberta, which is why municipalities need to be treated as respected and equal partners.”

They urge the government to take a longer-term view of the role of municipalities and work with the cities to find common ground.