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UCP cut municipal facility funding by over $40 million

The Alberta government claims they’re increasing funding by $15 million for a community grant programme, but they forgot to mention that they’d been underfunding the programm for the last 3 years.

Earlier this week, the Alberta government announced that they were “investing $4.5 million to upgrade or build 84 public-use facilities in communities across the province.”

The funding is part of the Community Facility Enhancement Program, which provides matching funding to help non-profits leverage other sources of funding to upgrade, redevelop, acquire, or build public-use facilities.

Last year, the programme funded over 250 capital projects through two streams. The small funding stream ended up going toward 241 projects at a combined cost of $12.8 million. The large funding stream covered 16 projects at a $8.5 million pricetag.

I was curious about the CEFP, so I did a bit of looking around the provincial government’s website. I found an interesting claim in the 2022–2023 budget, which was passed a couple of months ago.

The Capital Plan includes $116 million for the Community Facility Enhancement Program for sports, recreational, cultural or other related public-use community facilities, an increase of $15 million per year.

“Capital Plan”, Fiscal Plan 2022– 25, p. 163

Just for clarification, that $116 million is spread out over 3 years: this year, next year, and 2024–2025, at $39 million each.

And at “an increase of $15 million per year”, that’s an extra $45 million over that 3-year period. And for a government that wanted to cut spending, the idea that they were going to spend an extra $45 million on new projects sounded too good to be true.

So, I took a look at what the previous plan was. According to last year’s budget, the plan was originally to spend $19 million last year, $24 million this year, and $24 million next year.

What’s interesting, however, is that in the 2019–2020 budget, the UCP had budgeted $25 million for 3 years, which means they cut funding last year by $6 million for 2021–2020 and $1 million in 2022–2023.

I mean, the newest funding announcement makes up for that cut for the 2022–2023 budget year. And given that they report having spent $21.3 million last year, it’s higher than the $19 million they had originally cut it to. Granted, it’s still less than the $25 million they had promised the year before.

Their 2019–2020 budget, which itself was the first budget the UCP government passed after being elected, also projected $25 million a year in funding. That means that the 2020–2021 projections were simply a continuation of that.

So, at $39 million a year now, it’s great that we’re much higher now, right?

Well, kind of.

You see, the 2018–2019 budget—the last budget passed by the NDP—had projected spending of $38 million a year over the next 5 years, which would’ve included the current budget year.

So, let’s compare what the NDP planned to spend, and how that changed under the UCP. Keep in mind that only the 2021–2022 numbers are actual spending; all other numbers are based on projections.

NDPUCPChange
2019–2020$38 million$25 million-$13 million
2020–2021$38 million$25 million-$13 million
2021–2022$38 million$21.3 million-$16.7 million
2022–2023$38 million$39 million$1 million
Total$152 million$110.3 million-$41.7 million

So, yeah, maybe the UCP is increasing funding by $15 million a year to Community Facility Enhancement Program. That’s only after cutting it by tens of millions of dollars first.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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