People watching the back and forth tug and pull of provincial politics, the trial balloons being floated by Conservatives and the counter claims of the Wildrose, New Democrats and Liberals, are experiencing a growing degree of concern.
Most recent was the announcement Tuesday that the spring session in the Alberta Legislative Assembly won’t begin until Mar. 5 and that the budget will be released on Mar. 7. That’s nearly a month after it usually begins, according to New Democrat House Leader Rachel Notley.
“The spring session of the legislature has begun in early or mid-February for the past four years, making this year an anomaly worth noting,” according to her press release.
A concern raised by all the opposition parties is that the Conservative government has serious problems with its budget and with promises made during the election campaign last year not to raise taxes or cut services.
It’s really hard for us to understand how those two ideas could appear together.
But more and more, it’s becoming quite clear that something has to change and the change is going to have a dramatic effect on all of us.
We saw that first hand Monday night when Sylvan Lake councillors again debated moving forward on a multiplex to replace the aging arena.
The burning question was how to pay for the project.
It’s certain, if we listen to all the rhetoric coming from Edmonton, that there won’t be government grants of the magnitude needed to help Sylvan Lake build its newest recreation facility.
Councillor Laverne Asselstine urged inclusion of a statement in the multiplex task force’s terms of reference stating the project could be delayed or stopped if the money is not there to pay for it.
One of the concerns is the expectation that $2 million can be raised from user groups, sponsorships and fundraising.
Another should be what happens when government grants aren’t forthcoming.
Then there’s the amount of money that has to be borrowed through debentures for the project.
From the amount of public consultation that went into development of the concept for the multiplex and the various components to be included, we believe residents who will be footing the bill on several fronts are in favour of moving ahead with the project.
While we applaud Councillor Dale Plante for his optimism that Sylvan Lake and area residents will get behind this project, we agree with the need for caution and re-examination at various steps before the shovels go into the ground.
Of course, we’re aware too, that time is ticking down on how long the current facility can be used.
More information on the provincial scenario will be available in a month’s time. Then we’ll have a better picture and perhaps Albertans will find reason to be optimistic about our future.
In the meantime, we have comments such as Wildrose Deputy House Leader Shayne Saskiw’s when he stated, “The PCs are clearly in disarray over how they are going to fix the budget mess they have created with their habitual overspending on low-priority items like carbon capture and storage and new MLA offices.”
Or those of Alberta Liberal Municipal Affairs Critic Laurie Blakeman who warned “funding for municipalities could be next in a long line of broken promises from the Redford government.”
“The Tories have a long history of promising municipalities everything under the sun, and then failing to deliver,” said Blakeman Monday.
“I think we are going to see yet another example of this when the budget is finally announced.”
Proceeding on the multiplex project, with a caveat that the project could be delayed, seems the most prudent policy in our mind.
Making sure everyone knows that fact by having it specifically stated in documents referring to the project is essential.