Provincial officials consider increasing cash flow to cities
Published Tuesday, May 29, 2012 6:35PM MDT
Although the provincial government is currently working under a deficit budget, the Minister for Cities said Tuesday municipalities could see more money in the future.
While the province hasn't changed its stance on directly funding the downtown arena, the mayor hopes it could free up funds – that could go on to fill the $100 million funding gap in the project.
The Conservative Government is considering putting more funding for infrastructure towards cities in the future – as the province has predicted a budget surplus of more than $5 billion in three years.
Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths said the province is looking at the option in the future, said doing so would follow up on a commitment made by the provincial government in the past, that he said was stopped due to the economic slowdown.
"We're going to be talking about how we can increase it, and if we can increase it," Griffiths said.
No clear numbers were quoted, but the extra funds could total up to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Although it wasn't stated outright, the mayor was optimistic about what increased funds could eventually mean for the downtown arena project.
"I'm a very optimistic person, so we'll see what happens," Mayor Stephen Mandel said Tuesday.
"We've always been clear, the province is not going to write a cheque for a particular project," Griffiths said.
In terms of the arena project, Mandel said the extra money could be used for city infrastructure, which would then free up existing city funds to pay for the downtown arena.
Based on previous commitments, the funding increase could mean as much as $200 million for the city, and if they're increased – it would be up to City Council to decide where the funds will go.
Both Griffiths and Mandel said discussions on funding will continue, but the mayor said nothing is set in stone.
"There's been no commitment or anything like that, so let's be clear about that."
With files from Sean Amato