By the time you read this, it will be almost exactly four years since the most devastating flood in Canadian history. And it’s our fourth year without upstream flood protection. But there is reason for optimism, the Springbank project has the strong support of the municipal, provincial and federal governments, and the Glenmore Dam gates will be raised in time for Spring 2020.
That said, even though the Springbank project is proceeding according to plan, this critical project won’t be operational until spring 2021.
Frustrating as it is, it’s important to respect the regulatory process and ensure it is conducted as openly and comprehensively as possible. This minimizes the likelihood of successful court challenges and is the best way to ensure homes and businesses are protected from future flooding.
I believe the root cause of the opposition expressed by the Tsuut’ina nation is the government’s lack of proper engagement and consultation. It appears they’re making the same mistake governments before them have made; holding technical consultations but not leader-to-leader meetings. It’s clear that both are important.
I wrote to Premier Notley to ask her to get personally involved, and I have been pressing the government to ensure their engagement with Tsuut’ina is genuine, fact-based and thorough. As the process moves from the Environmental Impact Assessment to the regulatory reviews, we will finally get the opportunity to understand what impact, if any, the Springbank project will have on their land.
I will continue to press the government to do whatever is needed to see the Springbank project stays on track. Taking an optimistic view, Tsuut’ina opposition could be the catalyst needed for the province to give this project the attention it deserves, and if they do it could ultimately be the key to seeing the project completed and our communities protected.
Here’s to a dry spring.
Mental Wellness Resources
As we approach flood season, many of us will see our stress levels go up. In difficult times, it’s important to know help is out there. 211 Alberta can connect you or a loved one to resources available in our community, by simply dialing 211. It is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for convenient and stigma-free access to everything from advice on child-care available to information for seniors to mental health supports and suicide prevention. It’s a multilingual service providing 24-hour information and referral system for thousands of services available throughout Calgary.
Budget Town Hall Update
On April 8th, I held a budget town hall. The event was attend by people from all parts of the political spectrum who provided their input on the current state of Alberta’s finances. The common theme I heard at the event was that the government is on an unsustainable path and that we cannot continue to go further into debt. Our continued reliance on unpredictable resource revenues means that we will never be able to balance the budget.
Participants were presented with the question of how to increase provincial revenues in order to reduce our reliance on non-renewable resource revenue. When asked how they felt about revenue options, their preferences where ranked in the following order:
- Carbon Tax fully offset by Personal and Corporate Tax reductions and innovation tax credits
- PST with cuts to Personal and Corporate Tax
- New user fees: Toll roads, health care premiums, etc.
- PST on top of other taxes
- Carbon Tax on top of existing taxes
- Increase Corporate Tax
- Increase Personal Tax
I also asked those in attendance to identify where felt they sat on a continuum of budget options from our current deficit path to the sustainable path to cutback path. I overwhelmingly heard people want to find savings in government spending without hurting front-line services. This includes:
- Cap on non-renewable resource revenue used for core programs
- Constrain operational spending by 1%
- Public sector pay freeze
- Rethink tax system to reward individual effort and increase investment
- Shift to new, sustainable revenue sources to fund core programs
I would like to thank the volunteers and everyone who attended. I appreciated receiving the feedback and would like to hear from all constituents on the issue of our provincial finances. Please feel free to contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
This year marks Calgary’s fourth annual Neighbour Day. The event was created to recognize and remember how Calgary’s communities came together to help their neighbours after the 2013 flood. Held this year on June 17th, Neighbour Day is a time for Calgarians to celebrate our strong community spirit by organizing community events such as garden parties, picnics or neighbourhood clean-ups. Contact your local community association for information on events in your neighbourhood. Each year I try to attend as many events as possible in Calgary-Elbow. If your community is having an event, please let me office know by calling 403-252-0346 or by email at email@example.com.