As spring arrives in Alberta, our economy is stabilizing, and jobs are beginning to return. We are starting to see renewed investment in drilling and the oil sands. We are seeing new investment in value-added energy projects and in green energy projects.
The Alberta government announced its Budget 2017 on March 16. This budget demonstrated a commitment to making life affordable for everyday Albertans, and keep taxes on families the lowest in Canada. School and bussing fees are to be reduced. Post-secondary tuition fees will be frozen for another year. More apprenticeships and training opportunities will be funded.
This government has also cut the growth of government spending. Waste, perks and excessive salaries have been reined in. Salaries for non-unionized public sector workers, along with salaries for those serving on agencies, boards and commissions, have been frozen. A collaborative new agreement with doctors will save Albertan taxpayers $500 million over two years.
At the same time, investment in modernizations of our schools, hospitals, roads and highways are long overdue. Much-needed repairs and upgrades will keep Albertans working while making life better for Albertans who need those services.
Of special interest to Calgary-Northern Hills constituents, Alberta’s Budget 2017 allocates $500 million towards 26 school projects across Alberta, both new builds and modernization projects.
On March 26, I had the opportunity to attend a school announcement at Forest Lawn High School with Minister of Finance Joe Ceci and many representatives from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE). That high school received modernization funding and three new elementary schools were announced, including one right here in Coventry Hills.
The Coventry Hills/Country Hills Village Elementary School has ranked in top positions on the CBE Three-Year School Capital Plan for several consecutive years. Currently, 996 Kindergarten to Grade 4 students reside in the Coventry Hills and Country Hills Village neighbourhoods, with another 1,696 preschool-aged children quickly approaching school age. Funding announced for a new school should lead to smaller class sizes for our youngest learners, in other area schools as well – such as Coventry Hills School and Nose Creek School.
Even as we celebrated the announcement of a new elementary school, many in our community point out that the long wait continues for the North Calgary High School. The high school site is the vacant land beside the intersection of Panatella Gate NW, and Harvest Hills Blvd N, and just across Coventry Hills Way NE from Nose Creek School.
Thank you to those who have demonstrated support for this new high school through e-mails, phone calls and rallies, working with myself, and our local CBE trustee to move this school up the list of priorities in the CBE’s Three-Year School Capital Plan 2018-2021. The North Calgary High School is currently ranked in 8th position in the Year 1 list of CBE’s “Capital Priorities – New School Construction.” I will continue speaking with Minister of Education David Eggen and with CBE so that our community gets the school infrastructure we need.