Environmental and infrastructure spending in Alberta budget
February 14, 2012
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
The Alberta government's 2012 Budget which was announced last week included increased investment in environmental programs. Among them is $11 million for a new "world-class" environmental monitoring and reporting system to be initially applied...
The Alberta government’s 2012 Budget which was announced last week included increased investment in environmental programs. Among them is $11 million for a new “world-class” environmental monitoring and reporting system to be initially applied to the Lower Athabasca Region, home of oil sands development.
Other new investments in environmental programs include $444 million for bioenergy initiatives, $145 million for the Water for Life strategy and $70 million for greening energy production and other adaptations through the Climate Change and Emissions Management fund.
The province’s investments in public infrastructure for the next three years is budgeted at $16.5 billion — i.e. $5.5 billion per year.
The 2012-15 budget is slightly lower than the 2011 capital budget, which was $17.6 billion over three years. However, Alberta is one of the best positioned provinces in the country, with economic growth forecast to be 3.8% in 2012 — almost double the anticipated growth for the entire country and the United States. The $16.5 billion includes $3.5 billion for highways, $2.6 billion for health facilities and equipment, $1 billion for schools, and $300 million for housing programs.
The reduction in the capital budget, said a spokesperson at Alberta Finance, is partly because some major projects will be completed this year, including two large hospitals: the Edmonton Clinic South and the South Calgary Health Campus. Projects still underway include ring roads around the two major cities: the Northeast Anthony Henday Drive in Edmonton, and the Southeast Stoney Trail in Calgary.
In total the province budgeted for 2012 an increase in revenues of $1.8 billion to $40.3 billion, and an increase in expenses of $1.3 billion to $41.1 billion. There will be no new taxes or increased tax rates.
A breakdown of the province’s capital plan for 2012-2015 shows that almost 40% will be spent on support for municipal infrastructure, over 21% will go for provincial highways, and over 15% will go to health facilities and equipment. The province has also invested heavily in K-12 schools, increasing its investment by 62% over the past 10 years.
The province has a deficit of $886 million in 2012, and expects to follow this by surpluses in future years.