Calgary Mayor Nenshi says ‘caretaker budget’ fails to seize opportunity

Alberta’s budget did not feature deep cuts to balance the books, instead pushing off that accounting to a post-pandemic province. But the numbers will still constitute important realities in Calgary in the coming year.

Speaking after the budget’s release, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi characterized the plan as a “caretaker budget” that failed to seize opportunities proffered by the pandemic.

“There are some cuts in it that are really troubling,” Nenshi said. “But the real issue here is there is nothing in this budget to get us back to where we were before.

“At the very least, let’s hope this buys us some time to get it right, because we gotta get it right.”

On Thursday, the Alberta government proposed nearly $62 billion in spending in the 2021-22 budget, with Finance Minister Travis Toews predicting a $18.2-billion deficit in the coming year.

The budget will also see a rise in health-care spending, a boost in the government’s three-year construction plan by $1.7 billion and additional construction funding for school projects.

The 2021 budget also contains funding directed to Calgary-based organizations and projects.

Mount Royal University will receive $50 million as part of the budget over the next three years to repurpose existing spaces within the Calgary post-secondary school.

The Glenbow Museum and Vivo for Healthier Generations in Calgary will also receive funding as part of $251 million over the next three years designated to support building and maintenance of community infrastructure.

The budget sends $15.5 million to the Calgary Zoo, which will fund upgrades and expansions of the river otter habitat and new habitats for polar bears and other Arctic species, which are new to the zoo.

The Calgary Zoo will receive $15.5-million as part of Alberta’s 2021 budget, which will, in part, fund new habitats for polar bears and other arctic species. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Health facilities will see funding allocated for construction projects as part of the 2021 budget, including the Calgary Cancer Centre, which will receive $212.6 million in 2021-22.

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