The city and the province are at odds on Edmonton’s biggest infrastructure priority, the Yellowhead. However both seem to see a path towards getting the stretch of road highway ready. It’s a question of finding the money for the $1 billion price tag.
Mayor Don Iveson is pushing for the project, while Premier Rachel Notley has been telling municipal politicians at the AUMA convention in Edmonton that there’s still a shortage of money, and they need to lower their expectations.
“The Yellowhead was not on our list of priorities,” Notley told reporters at her news conference following her speech to delegates. “That’s one of those ones where we’re currently looking at what strategies we have at our disposal to try make that project go forward and the minister of transportation has been doing a lot of work on it, and we’re hopeful that we’ll come up with some solutions soon.”
“We still have room with in our capital plan,” she said which is still early in it’s four year time table.
“We’re not in a growth position. We’re roughly trying to keep government spending to around two per cent. Given the pressures that exist in health and education right now that means there’s going to be below that in other areas.”
Mayor Don Iveson said work is slowing down now that the Anthony Henday is complete, and the industry wants to keep the momentum going. “There are design jobs that we could get started on basically tomorrow if we had the funding in place, so we’d actually be able to get stimulus right away, move into land acquisition, and secure construction contracts out into the future in this favorable pricing environment.”
What complicated things was a signal from the federal government for stimulus spending that the NDP didn’t see coming right away.
“I recognize the fiscal situation the province is in,” Iveson told reporters. “One of the best ways for us from a government side of things to help address the economic situation that we’re in is to make stimulus investments in infrastructure that preserve employment and set us up for competitiveness into the future.”
“If they’re going to pump the brakes that’s a bad place to do it,” Iveson said.
The best Notley could promise was to continue to try to work things out with Ottawa.
“We are in the course, or in the process of trying to deliberate and to work collaboratively with the federal government to figure out how to work out those priorities.”
She said the deficit right now is $10.9 billion. The province’s estimated debt is expected to climb to $58 billion by 2019.
(sj-with files from Global News)