Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson warns of possible in-year cuts to $2.8-billion infrastructure plan for 2020 without help from senior governments

By District Energy posted 05-26-2020 14:24

  

Edmonton Journal

Summary

Edmonton city council is poised to back most of the $2.8 billion in construction projects approved for 2020, but Mayor Don Iveson is warning the plan may require cuts during the year if senior governments don’t provide funding.

A pending motion filed by Iveson during the capital budget debate Monday, which council will vote on Tuesday, asks city staff to highlight infrastructure projects in the 2019-22 capital budget that could be on the chopping block as early as this year. Keeping some recreation centres and pools closed for an extended period of time will also be on the table as an option to reduce operating costs.

Iveson, who has repeatedly called on the provincial and federal governments to help the city combat revenue shortfalls amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said he is not optimistic that the city will get the funding it needs.

“A few weeks ago, I was really quite confident that we were going to get help and now I think we have to prepare for all possibilities including infrastructure cuts and service cuts or significant tax increases to offset them and that will be a very, very difficult set of decisions for council to make,” Iveson said during the debate.Iveson said he supports the city’s desire to move forward with the four-year capital plan of $9.66 billion as a way to stimulate the economy and continue to invest in projects that will benefit residents. But with the city facing a projected revenue shortfall of $137.2 million through mid-September resulting from reduced services, some of these construction dollars may need to be reallocated so that essential services like transit can continue.

“Notwithstanding that we should move ahead with the infrastructure budget for this year, we may need to consider in-year cuts to it if things get very bad and we’ll certainly need to consider contraction in 2021 and 2022,” he said. “What’s left of our operating budget is essential services at this point so this is now becoming very serious.”

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