The Alberta NDP laid out their plans for capital improvements in Calgary while speaking to supporters in the northwest Calgary community of Dalhousie on Thursday, to the amount of $1.2 billion over Budget 2023.
Speaking in front of several hundred supporters at the Dalhousie Community Association, Rachel Notley, leader of the Alberta NDP laid out a plan to spend hundreds of millions on capital investment projects between 2023 and 2026.
Among the promises made to Calgary voters were funding for land acquisition to complete a north leg of the Green Line, a North Calgary regional health centre, building or modernizing 40 Calgary schools, and revitalization and post-secondary funding for the downtown. Earlier this year, the province funded planning for the north Calgary health centre.
“We are committed to restoring vibrancy and bringing a new energy into downtown Calgary so that we can continue to generate prosperity for this city and for this whole province,” said Notley.
The NDP’s plan is proposing an additional $1.223 billion spent over three years on various projects, with a total of $213 million in 2023/2024, $475 million in 2024/2025, and $535 million in 2025/2026.
Under an NDP government, the Green Line would receive $150 million over two years for land acquisition between 16 Avenue and 160 Avenue.
Notley said that the funding for the Green Line was staged in such a way that it would be sufficient to put a deposit on lands, with re-budgeting occurring later as conditions change. She said that the funding was not an indication that the acquisition of land was expected to occur within a two-year period.
“We put that money in there to make it clear that we will ensure that there was enough to get the land in place, and if that’s more than we need, great. If we need a bit more than that, then we’ll go there too,” she said.
On the other end of the staged funding spectrum, the NDP has promised $205 million for affordable housing, with $5 million for year-one, followed by $200 million for the following two years.
Notley said that decision was due to the need to work with partners to plan around where to build affordable housing.
“Generally speaking those kinds of projects take a bit of planning. You’ve got to find a location you’ve got to coordinate with your partners, and often when you’re building affordable housing you’re doing it in partnership with nonprofits or municipalities,” she said.
“It’s about finding the sponsor, and also assessing the need. Because even as we talk about affordable housing, which is so important to, well, all New Democrats—that is certainly a huge issue for me—we have to make sure that we’re building the right kind of affordable housing.”
Among the goals, she said, is housing for seniors and transitional housing with wrap-around services.
Downtown revitalization a goal for party
Also on the municipal interest list is funding for the revitalization of downtown Calgary, at $50 million per year.
“There are fewer head offices here in Calgary than there were in 2019, and the city now has the highest downtown office vacancy rate in the country,” said Notley.
“Instead of writing blank cheques that will send money out of the province, we will provide incentives to keep and bring in investment right here in Alberta.”
She said that that investment would range from startups to large-scale projects.
“We’ll build a more vibrant downtown that attracts people to live here, to work here, to play, and to connect downtown,” Notley said.
“We will support small businesses to move into the core and make improvements to their storefronts. We’ll provide better support, more wraparound services, and improve community safety downtown.”
Health care and education also in the capital investment plan
A North Calgary regional health centre would receive $23 million over the $1 million currently budgeted by the government to study and its creation, over three years.
"Not only not only we will keep our hospitals public, we will build them and we will start important planning and design work on the North Calgary Regional Health Centre," Notley said.
The party is also proposing $15 million over three years to fund an Alberta Cancer Innovation Hub at the Calgary Cancer Centre.
Notley reminded supporters of how the Calgary Cancer Centre was planned and begun construction under her previous government and laid out her party promises to improve upon the services provided now that the centre is open.
"We'll also invest in the cancer centre itself, so it can provide state-of-the-art treatment and it will be a world-leading research centre by adding a brand new cancer innovation hub," Notley said
"By doing that we can attract even more researchers and we can bring them together with patients to develop new treatments and diagnostic procedures and clinical trials and ultimately the commercialization of tech—all that stuff right here in Alberta."
The goals laid out for the hub were similar to what Alberta Health Services had previously announced for the Cancer Centre in December of 2022.