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What the new provincial government budget means for Calgary

Alberta’s UCP government has released its 2024 fiscal plan — so what does it mean for Calgary?

New funding for major municipal projects was announced on Thursday, including $7.8 million over the next three years for the Arts Commons and Olympic Plaza Transformation Project, plus $43.4 million over the next three years to extend the CTrain’s Blue Line by one station to 88th Street N.E.

Tabled by Finance Minister Nate Horner, the Alberta government’s 2024-25 fiscal plan also includes various other commitments for the city that had already been announced.

Namely, the province has pledged millions for Calgary’s planned event centre, as well as initiatives like funding for police officers in the downtown core and a new facility for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The province has already agreed to provide a total of $1.53 billion for the Green Line LRT project, which will run from Eau Claire downtown to Shepard station in the southeast. Construction on the Green Line is slated to start later this year, and is expected to take six years.

The province has already agreed to provide a total of $1.53 billion for the Green Line LRT project, which will run from Eau Claire downtown to Shepard station in the southeast. 

The 2024-25 fiscal plan allocates $207.9 million every year for the next three years, marking another revision to the provincial contribution, stretching funds further into the future and prolonging the project. Construction on the Green Line is slated to start later this year, and is expected to take six years to complete.

“Calgary and Edmonton are globally recognized hubs of commerce, culture, education and innovation,” reads the Alberta government’s funding highlights. “Budget 2024’s three-year Capital Plan supports their growth in a responsible and sustainable manner.”

Yet even while the city will see some new money this year for capital projects, Mayor Jyoti Gondek says she’s disappointed, calling the province’s plan an “austerity” budget that doesn’t meet the needs of Calgarians.

She said that while the budget includes capital to address Alberta’s housing crisis, it’s unclear where that money will be spent.

“We remain concerned that Alberta is calling but there’s no place for people who are coming here to call home,” Gondek said.

a woman in a pink shirt.
‘When you get your tax bill, you will be able to see what portion of it stays in the city to provide you with the services you need and what portion of it goes to the province,’ Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek told reporters in response to the release of Alberta’s 2024 provincial budget. (Tom Ross/CBC)

While the mayor called some portions of the budget good news, when it comes to the Blue Line LRT — an integral part of the city’s plan to eventually link the CTrain network to the Calgary International Airport — she says it’s still $10 million short of what the city wanted.

Gondek also said the province is raising how much education property taxes it will take from the city, which will further raise this year’s property tax increase.

“With this budget I can now confirm for you that the province is in fact taking $96 million more than last year,” she told reporters during a news conference following the budget’s release. 

“That’s a 12-per-cent increase, as opposed to holding the line, or letting us keep more property taxes here, as had been promised.”

Alberta’s budget is forecasting a $367-million provincial surplus for 2024-25. It’s also estimating $73.5 billion in total revenue for that same period, which is $2.1 billion less than its third quarter forecast.

Health care, education spending

Investing in the University of Calgary’s Multidisciplinary Hub for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs starting in the 2025-26 fiscal year, the province is committing $55 million to increase student capacity by over 1,000 spaces. 

The province had previously announced $5 million in the 2023 fiscal plan for the hub.

Financial contributions are also being made to the future cancer centre — $109 million will be spent this year on the Arthur J.E. Child Comprehensive Cancer Centre, which is slated to open in the fall, and is one of Calgary’s largest capital health care projects.

Alberta’s government will put up $70 million over three years to increase capacity at the Foothills Medical Centre Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, plus $67 million over the same period to redevelop the Peter Lougheed Centre emergency unit and mental health unit.

The Calgary Cyclotron Facility will also receive $48 million over three years, a project that’s been sought for years.

Alberta is also allocating $10 million to the Calgary Health Foundation to develop a “provincewide midwifery strategy,” according to the budget, and look at women-specific health care initiatives. 

However, the fiscal plan for the North Calgary/Airdrie Regional Health Centre has changed. Originally, the plan was to distribute $3 million over three years — instead, the health centre will see zero dollars this year, funding will begin in the 2025-26 fiscal year.

Other initiatives

Here are some of the other capital funding highlights for what the 2024 provincial budget will fund in Calgary:

  • $524 million over the next three years for Deerfoot Trail upgrades — a provincially owned highway — including $156 million in the upcoming fiscal 2024-25 year. This previously announced spend is now being stretched out over a longer period of time.

  •  $89 million over next three years for the renovation of Calgary’s historic Court of Appeal building. The project is slated to begin this year and kick off spending with $10 million.

  • $103 million over three years to develop 420 long-term care spaces at Bethany Calgary, a continuing care centre.

  • The Local Government Fiscal Framework Act is officially part of the budget, meaning Calgary will see $224 million in the 2024–25 fiscal year “to support municipal priorities.” This is the replacement for the previous program known as the Municipal Sustainability Initiative which funded local infrastructure projects.

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