Getting Edmonton's Fair Share

Updated June 4th, 2013

After my first 6 weeks on the doors I would like to thank the great folks in Parkallen, Grandview, Greenfield and Pleasantview for their hospitality and openness when I have come knocking.

I am always grateful when citizens take the time to share their views about our city and their ideas about how to make it better.

It is no surprise the state of our roads and the downtown arena were major topics of discussion on the doorstep.

Our roads have deteriorated terribly. People are not happy. They shouldn’t be happy. Great cities are built on great foundations. We need to seriously invest in our roads, public transit and walkability in our neighbourhoods. And we need to lean toward better technology when it comes to road construction and repair. We can do better.

When it comes to the arena, people were divided. Some said, “let’s think big and build it. Get it done!”  Others said, “we don’t need it and we certainly don’t need tax dollars to build it.

I believe we should strive for Edmonton's boldest future. As we do, we need to be careful stewards of the taxes citizens give us to build and operate a city with a solid foundation.

The downtown arena project is bold and has tremendous potential to enliven downtown, to pay for itself through the CRL and will secure the Oilers in our city for another 35 years. Now we can move forward from the long debate and make sure all of these things happen. We need to be enthusiastic about this project and make it work. This is the job of the next council.

I always supported a greater portion of arena funding coming via the ticket tax as a way to capture dollars from the 1/3 of users who come from outside of Edmonton. The recent discussion at the Capital Region Board to support a grant application for additional arena funding, I think, will prove to be the most significant piece of the deal. Namely because it is the start of a very important conversation.

Whether it’s the tremendous need to invest in roads and public transit or to support a project like the arena or anything significant, Edmonton has a bigger financial battle to face.

We need to understand the financial impact people from outside of Edmonton have on our infrastructure, roads being one example. (~860,000 Edmontonians belong to households that contribute to our property tax to pay for infrastructure and services ~1.2 million people use every day.)

Edmonton needs a fairer share of infrastructure and MSI money from the province and industrial tax base from our region. The province needs to create modern and equitable funding models that recognize the significant role big cities play in the economy and quality of life that our own citizens and regional neighbours enjoy because of Edmonton. We need a city charter that firmly addresses the revenue inequities for big cities like ours.

-       Currently Edmonton receives $347/person through MSI grants and Strathcona County receives $397/person.

-       Additionally rural counties receive about 94% of the industrial property tax in the province or 1.4 billion annually, while serving only 18% of the population.

The truth is that Edmonton cannot think that big and will struggle to support growing demand for infrastructure if we do not modernize funding models and ensure big cities get a fairer share. Of every tax dollar that leaves Edmonton, only six cents come back, while the rest remains with the federal and provincial levels of government.

I am running for city council because we need to fight for a fairer share of provincial and federal funding for cities. I am running because I want to be a leader on city council who will move our city and our region into the future. We need to build a modern region in which Edmonton has the revenue it needs to build and deliver high quality and modern infrastructure and core services in great neighbourhoods.