Alberta Municipalities wants $1B per year in additional infrastructure funding from province

More than a thousand officials from cities across the province are gathered in Edmonton this week for the Alberta Municipalities Convention, with delegates from across Alberta calling on the province to increase money for infrastructure projects.

The largest gathering of municipal leaders is taking place in Edmonton this week.

More than 1,200 delegates from municipalities across the province came together Wednesday at the Edmonton Convention Centre for the opening of the three-day Alberta Municipalities convention and trade show.

The event, formerly known as the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention and trade show, sees municipal delegates discuss current issues, including infrastructure funding.

Edmonton councillor Andrew Knack, of Ward Nakota Isga, tells CityNews the province’s infrastructure funding isn’t keeping up with the city’s growth. He feels Edmonton is falling behind.

Knack says delegates are calling on the provincial government to increase funding that supports critical infrastructure such as roads, recreation centres and emergency services.

“Just last week we heard that 40,000 people moved into the City of Edmonton last year,” Knack said. “Put that into perspective: 40,000 people is larger than the City of Spruce Grove to the west of us. Think of the infrastructure demands that we have with 40,000 new people moving in, and if the infrastructure funding with the provincial government isn’t keeping up, the only other option we have is property taxes.”

Knack says the income tax paid by new residents doesn’t offset the cost of building new infrastructure like parks and police stations.

“We do need to make sure there is a proper amount of funding coming from the provincial government that is keeping up with the growth that they are looking to have,” said Knack.

Edmonton city councillor Andrew Knack speaking with CityNews reporter at Alberta Municipalities convention and trade show, Sept. 27, 2023. (CityNews)

Changes to funding model

The councillor says this isn’t just about Edmonton and Calgary, that all municipalities – including summer villages across the province – face similar issues.

“It’s about funding to make sure all municipalities are providing for Albertans.”

There have been recent changes to a funding model – the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) program. According to the province’s website, that program will be replaced by the Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) beginning next year. The LGFF will include $722 million in capital funding.

In statement to CityNews, the Alberta Municipal Affairs press secretary says the province is committed to upping funding to $820 million for 2025-26 through the LGFF – an increase of nearly 14 per cent.

“The increase is based on the fiscal performance three years prior to the budget,” said Scott Johnston.

“This is the first time that 2025-2026 funding under the new framework will be confirmed as an actual funding amount in Alberta’s budget calculations, not just an estimate.”

As far as Alberta’s two largest cities are concerned, Johnston says Calgary’s share of the LGFF in 2025-26 will be $255 million, while Edmonton’s will be $179 million.

Request for extra $1 billion per year

St. Albert mayor and president of Alberta Municipalities, Cathy Heron, says there need to be a more substantial increase.

“We really are going to fail if we don’t have the infrastructure to support that kind of growth,” Heron said. “And that means we need to build obviously more houses, and affordable supportive housing is part of that. We need to build rec centres so we can attract a quality of life.”

Heron says municipalities rely heavily on provincial help, and changes to their funding model are simply not keeping up. She says delegates are on board with asking for an additional $1 billion per year – for a total of $1.75 billion – in capital funding.

Heron says the ask comes from taking what the old funding model would have been and adding inflation over the last 10 years.

“Ten years ago, we would average about $400 per resident in infrastructure funding,” she said. “Now we’re down to about $150 per capita in Alberta. So that’s a significant drop that municipalities are trying to make up for.”

Knack says delegates at the Alberta Municipalities convention and trade show will vote on the infrastructure funding resolution Thursday, adding he hopes for a quick increase in funds to be able to support Albertans.

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