Calgary to seek $152M in provincial stimulus money for municipal projects

Calgary city council has zeroed in on list of projects to get its share of municipal stimulus money from the province. The finalized list was approved by council Tuesday.

Calgary is eligible for $152.8 million of the $500 million promised by the Alberta government.

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The city’s application will include projects like redevelopment and maintenance of affordable housing, revitalizing the Glenbow Museum, upgrades to parks and major roadways, stormwater drainage improvements and flood resiliency, and implementing the 52nd Street BRT from Saddletowne to Seton.

“The most important thing, I should say on both lists for me, is the inclusion of a lot of repair for affordable housing units,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday.

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“It bothers me a lot that we’re the largest tenant landlord in Calgary and sometimes our tenants don’t live in places we should be proud of being a landlord of. And I hope that we’ll be able to fix a lot of that.”

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The city tried to include the purchase of “distressed assets” in the application as a way to get more affordable housing stock in the city. Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard rebutted, saying the money is supposed to create jobs, not acquire assets.

“I still think [purchasing distressed assets is] a good idea,” the mayor said. “I think we should be out there looking for apartment buildings and hotels that are willing to sell cheap. It’s just it’s not appropriate for the stimulus amount of money.”

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While other municipalities have a maximum of five projects per request, Calgary will be able to submit for five groups of related projects.

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“The province is looking to have fewer and larger projects,” Nenshi said.

“So if, in fact, they want to have fewer projects, we will lose a couple of projects off our list and beef up some of the ones that are on the list.”

The stimulus money is designed to create jobs during the coronvirus pandemic and the projects are to be completed by the end of 2021.

Read more: Stimulus programs in response to COVID-19 could have lingering impact, experts say

Nenshi called the provincial investment in Calgary a “good news story.”

“We’re very thankful for the money and we going to put it to work right away.”

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