Calgary city council has given approval in principle to more than 20 infrastructure projects. The work is being called “add-ons” to the existing, $2-billion dollar capital budget.
Funding for the projects, including flood mitigation, Crowchild Trail improvements and completion of Airport Trail NE, is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars but will not require any borrowing or tax increases. Instead, the city is reallocating dollars.
“We’ve gone through every single business unit to determine what projects are coming in under-budget where we can get the money,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said, adding the city has also looked at reserve funds to build this pool of money.
City manager Jeff Fielding said the projects will mean no new taxes and no new debt for the city.
A number of the projects will require provincial and federal governments cost-sharing. Nenshi said that funding could be included in budgets to be presented later this month.
“There are some places where the committment is already there. There’s some places where we know the program is coming or has been announced but the money hasn’t flowed yet”, said the mayor. “And so we’ve tried to leverage the federal and provincial money against whatever cost-sharing we need to at the city to move forward.”
The projects chosen were selected because they will have little or no impact on the city’s operating budget. “They have to be capital projects with minimal impact to the operating budget”, Because if you’re doing stimulus then you have to end up spending a lot of money maintaining the project, that’s not the smartest thing to do in this economy.”
Although the spending is ball-parked to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, the city isn’t releasing the preliminary numbers for the individual projects ahead of the tendering process. “Why the costs aren’t there in the total amount is simply because of competition,” Councillor Ward Sutherland said.
“If we go out (and) tell how much each one’s going to cost, then they know what to bid on. That’s a disadvantage to all Calgarians. It’ll come back back to council with refined costs for a final vote and some of those things could change. They’re not written in stone.”
The goal is to be able to start work on some of the projects in the coming construction season.
with files from Aurelio Perri, News Talk 770