New infrastructure funding, a focus on indigenous relations and affordable housing were all highlighted in yesterday’s federal budget announcement; however, the City awaits further detail on just how much of this funding Red Deer will see in 2019.
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said from what she can tell at initial glance is that there is new federal infrastructure funding that’s likely coming to Red Deer.
“We anticipate it’s an additional $6 million over and above what we were previously anticipating, so this is potentially some good news for Red Deer as it will help fulfill Red Deer’s local capital plan and provide savings on the property tax base if that infrastructure money comes to Red Deer,” said Veer.
The other area the City was watching for was with respect to the government’s commitment around safe transport and securing energy to market access for Albertans energy products.
Although pipelines weren’t specifically mentioned in the budget, Veer said they will be looking at details in the coming days and weeks to find further information on how the government plans to approach that.
The importance of strengthening relationships with the indigenous community and moving towards reconciliation was also highlighted with the federal government outlining plans to invest in education, housing and continued work on governance, however it is not clear whether or not any of that investment will be realized in Red Deer.
The federal government noted incentives to make home ownership more affordable for first-time home buyers, which could help improve local real estate and construction industries. The creation of the Canadian Experiences Fund could also help to boost local tourism initiatives in Red Deer and Central Alberta.
With respect to the recent writ drop of the election, Veer said over the last couple of years, Red Deer has been very intentional in terms of elevating its advocacy agenda before the provincial government.
She said the number one priority to Red Deerians and Central Albertans is the Red Deer Regional Hospital infrastructure expansion.
“That’s an issue where the numbers at the hospital speak for themselves. Health expansion isn’t linked to any particular party. I think it’s imperative that the numbers speak for themselves and that that infrastructure expansion proceed,” she said.
She added that another issue of importance to Red Deerians is with respect to securing new market for Alberta’s energy products.
“Red Deer’s economy has strongly diversified in recent years, however we still do remain highly reliant on the oil and gas sector and when oil and gas is doing well Red Deer is doing well and we need to secure new markets in order to get Red Deerians back to work.”