As soon as the Legislature rose for summer recess in early June, I put my walking shoes on and visited more than half the homes in Calgary-Foothills. At the doors, many constituents, including Albertans formerly from British Columbia and Saskatchewan, were adamant that we need to change the government at the next election for the sake of the long-term prosperity of Alberta. I agree and that’s why I’m committed to making sure the unity agreement between the Wildrose and PC parties becomes a reality. The vast majority of Albertans want a single, big tent, conservative option on the ballot for next election.
At the doors, I heard concerns about the growing debt in Alberta. The province ended 2016-17 with a $10.8 billion deficit, $263 million higher than estimated in Budget 2016. The NDP’s borrowing binge has left Alberta on track to be more than $90 billion in debt by the end of 2020, according to the latest estimates from credit rating agency, Standard & Poor’s.
I also heard complaints about the Calgary Green Line. North Central Calgarians are not getting the much-needed rapid transit on time or as advertised. Wildrose supports the Green Line, but Calgarians need to know why the cost of tunneling under the downtown was not factored in right from the start. Transportation Minister Brian Mason needs to ensure that provincial tax payers are not left on the hook for cost overruns. We were promised 46 km of track for $4.6 billion, now we are only getting 21 km. Solutions need to be found to get the entire length built.
As Calgary takes the traditional summer pause to honour our agriculture industry with the Calgary Stampede, I turn to the crop report in the Western Producer to see how that other bright light in the Alberta economy is doing. While 78% of crops were rated good to excellent, this number is expected to drop a little and be closer to the 5-year average of 73%. It seems Alberta is getting too much moisture up north and not enough moisture in the south.
As you hit the road for vacations this summer, please drive carefully out there. Please visit my Facebook page @PrasadPandayyc for updates or follow me on Twitter.
Prasad Panda, MLA Calgary- Foothills