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Alberta to spend over $20 billion on capital projects

There’s a catch though.

Last week, the UCP government announced that as part of the 2021–2022 budget, they’d direct over $20.7 billion to capital projects over the next 3 years.

Here’s how it breaks down.

Municipal infrastructure support

The largest chunk of that—nearly a third—is planned for municipal infrastructure support, which includes things like “roads, clean water
infrastructure and public transit.” This $5.9 billion will be spread out over 3 years, but keep in mind that it includes provincial and federal funding:

Total funding to municipalities,which includes both provincial and federal funding, is forecast to average over $1.9 billion per year from 2021-22 through to 2023-24.

“Capital Plan”, Fiscal Plan 2021–24, p. 130

This funding comes with a couple of caveats though.

First, municipalities shouldn’t think that this type of funding to be typical of this government:

The additional funding for municipalities provided due to COVID-19 and the economic downturn requires the province to reduce average funding over the next few years, to ensure that government can continue to provide significant infrastructure support to municipalities over the long term.

“Capital Plan”, Fiscal Plan 2021–24, p. 130

And second, the increase in MSI funding this year will come at the expense of MSI funding available in the following two years:

Funding under the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) in 2021-22 will be $1.2 billion. . . . Funding will be reduced to $485 million in 2022-23 and 2023-24 [each].

“Capital Plan”, Fiscal Plan 2021–24, p. 130

Capital maintenance and renewal

The next largest component of the capital budget is the maintenance and renewal of public infrastructure. This is fixing and upgrading stuff, like electrical and HVAC systems, building roofs, and so on.

The province plans to devote $3 billion to these projects, which amounts to about 17% of all capital funding. and an increase of nearly $300 million over the next 3 years. However, like with the municipal infrastructure support funding, this increase comes at the expense of funding in future years:

The CMR funding in Budget 2021 has been increased to $1.3 billion for 2021-22, comprising funding accelerated from future years and an additional increase.

“Capital Plan”, Fiscal Plan 2021–24, p. 131

Roads and bridges

Transportation infrastructure, such as roads and bridge, comes in at third place with $2.4 billion in allocated capital funding.

These projects include the twinning of Highway 11 from Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House and Highway 3 from Taber to Burdett and a new bridge near La Crete over the Peace River, as well as various rehabilitation, widening, and upgrading projects.

Health care

Health care is the only other area to receive more than 10% of the total capital funding envelope. See yesterday’s story on those projects, totalling $2.2 billion over the next 3 years.

Education

The only other area to receive over $1 billion in funding over the next 3 years is education.

The $1.6 billion the government is dedicating over the next 3 years will include the construction of new schools, as well as upgrades to existing ones, such as modernization, and the design of related projects.

Only $268 million of this will go toward new schools in Calgary, Lethbridge, and Red Deer. The province claimed in a release from last week that they’ll be funding new schools in Camrose, Edmonton, and Manning, but funding for these schools appears to be only design funding at this point.

$160 million of the $1.6 billion will go toward providing modulars for schools.

The remainder of the funding includes 5 modernizations or additions (2 of which are just design funding), 2 school replacement projects, and a “school ownership solution”.

The other 24% of total capital funding still left will be split as follows:

  • $935 million to streamline government service delivery (sounds like lost jobs)
  • $568 million for public safety and emergency services projects
  • $496 million for agriculture and natural resources projects
  • $209 million for family, social supports and housing
  • $251 million for sports and recreation projects
  • $191 million for post-secondary infrastructure
  • $750 million for economic recovery

You can read more about these projects here.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 4 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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