Federal money will be sent early to cities, but Alberta municipalities say more is needed
The announcement came weeks after a plea from cities for cash to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know that cities and towns need this money right away as they deal with COVID-19,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Edmonton will be on the receiving end of some of that money. The city has already laid off hundreds of workers to cut costs, and Mayor Don Iveson said the gas tax advance announced on Monday has already been spent.
Edmonton and other Alberta municipalities have sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney asking the province to work with Ottawa to find emergency funding.
“We’ll listen to the municipalities in terms of what their priorities area,” he said.
Iveson said Edmonton’s biggest need is funding for transit. Ridership dropped upwards of 70 per cent during the pandemic, and the Edmonton Transit Service is bleeding $10 million per month.
Iveson said Edmonton needs $217 million not only to keep buses running, but also to fund future infrastructure projects.
“As to how the provincial and federal governments want to divide that up, we’d love to be part of those conversations,” Iveson said.
Phase two of Alberta’s relaunch could see some city employees at services like libraries hired back, but if physical distancing measures continue beyond September, Edmonton and other Alberta cities and towns could go deeper in the red.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Dan Grummett.