Folks on the doors have been sharing that their minds are on the federal election. With one week to go before September 20th, that makes sense. I figured this was a good time to talk about my philosophy on the vital funding relationship between other orders of government, and how I will work to ensure we get a fair deal for Edmonton.
Throughout this campaign I have strived to focus on municipal issues that councillors can directly influence. In my last post, I discussed municipal jurisdiction, and how important municipal services are to everyday life and to our shared goals as a community. Now, I want to talk more about how we can partner with other orders of government so we can bring more investment to Edmonton and make progress on shared goals.
Municipalities are responsible for a wide range of services critical to our wellbeing, but they only collect about 10 cents on the tax dollar. I believe that this sometimes reflects higher fiscal discipline among municipalities, but the main reason is that municipalities are given limited financial tools to raise revenue. In Alberta, like in most other provinces, municipalities rely primarily on property taxes to levy funds.
In order to make progress on shared goals like economic prosperity, climate change, affordable housing, and inclusive communities, municipalities need to seek out pragmatic partnerships with other orders of government. That is easier said than done, but the good news is that municipalities have a lot to offer to other orders of government.
Shared Goals & Partnerships
In my last post, I made the case that municipal services like transit and urban planning are critical to the economic, environmental and social wellbeing of our communities, and that municipalities can help bring communities together to drive local solutions to complex challenges. If elected, I will continue making that case to other orders of government who are looking to make investments to advance their goals.
I don’t have a crystal ball, and I can’t tell you what is going to happen in provincial or federal elections in the coming weeks and years. However, we are in an excellent position to help other governments achieve their goals effectively and efficiently – no matter who is in office.
For example, all viable parties at all levels speak about the need to address climate change, and when it comes to climate action, the City of Edmonton is in a position to help. From facilitating major investments in rapid transit to helping pilot fuelling networks for new fuels, to building industry capacity in green building,
Edmonton stands to benefit from being a leader in climate action. In doing so, we can help make a dent in our collective responsibility to fight climate change and reap the benefits of living in a low-carbon city.
We can also look at affordable housing, which is a major conversation being had across Canada. I have talked extensively about the need for permanent supportive housing throughout my campaign, and the need to grab federal housing dollars when they are available. I have also talked about the need to break the mold of traditional funding partnerships with other orders of government.
An early example of this is the new Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI), in which the federal government directly invests in affordable housing in partnership with municipalities. While securing a provincial share of capital costs would have been beneficial, the RHI model is enabling community investment that otherwise would not have happened or would have been delayed. This helps us achieve our shared goal of housing vulnerable community members and moves us closer to ending homelessness.
Attracting Public Investment
The improvements in project management and open government the City has made in recent years will be an asset in attracting public investment. Capital projects now proceed through a number of “checkpoints” that clearly tell Council, the public and other governments what the status of the project is.
The new model increases transparency and accountability, which means that we can quickly pitch to other government capital projects that are ready for construction investment. It also means that their funds will be well-looked after – yet another reason to never forget the importance of getting the fundamentals of municipal government right.
Edmonton is well-positioned to partner with other levels governments to bring investments in municipal infrastructure and make progress on the City Plan. Maximizing partnerships will require a flexible, pragmatic approach, and councillors who can help deliver on shared, intergovernmental priorities. I believe a collaborative approach and a willingness to work with others who we may not always agree with drives progress. I will collaborate with my colleagues on council to ensure Edmonton gets its fair share from provincial and federal governments.
Written by: Ashley Salvador