Council approves project list to spur job creation with provincial funds

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City council has approved a slightly revised list of city projects up for $152.8 million of provincial stimulus funding.

Calgary is getting about a third of the total $500 million the province is doling out to cities for infrastructure projects that will get people to work and spur the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s list — which still requires provincial sign-off — includes affordable housing repairs, bus rapid transit work, road maintenance and drainage improvements.

The projects are designed to get people to work right away, especially in fields such as construction. The city estimates that investing in the projects will create nearly 900 jobs. The bulk of the money — $56.7 million in total — is slated for road projects, including $43 million to widen Peigan Trail between Barlow Trail and Stoney Trail S.E., and $13.1 million for bus rapid transit improvements on 52nd Street E. between the Saddletowne CTrain station and South Health Campus.

Parks and pathways also made the list, with $20.6 million for projects to improve pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in Eau Claire.

All the money must be spent by the end of 2021 and it comes with other strings attached, including that the spending must create jobs and can’t require operating funds from the province or increase municipal taxes.

The city had considered using about $5 million to purchase a “distressed asset” such as a hotel to boost Calgary’s supply of affordable housing, creating an opportunity to move people out of shelters.

But that didn’t fit the province’s criteria for the funding since purchasing a building doesn’t directly create jobs, and the city will instead distribute the money across plans for street maintenance and community drainage improvements.

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