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Calgary mayor concerned about expected provincial rules preventing direct federal funding

The Alberta government is expected to introduce legislation Wednesday to oversee deals between Ottawa and municipalities.

Premier Danielle Smith and Seniors and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon have hinted at potential rules to prevent direct funding deals between the federal government and cities and towns in Alberta.

“It’s not the federal government’s jurisdiction to come in and tell the municipalities what to do,” Nixon said Friday, following what was one of several federal announcements to pledge money to municipalities to boost housing construction.

“Frankly, it’s the province’s jurisdiction, and we need to maintain our jurisdiction,” he said.

Calgary’s mayor says the rule changes could put money from the feds to the city in jeopardy.

“We have a provincial government that’s going to step in now and prohibit us from receiving funding that we desperately need for housing,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek on Tuesday.

“It’s simply going to slow things down and that will make life worse for Calgarians, not better.

“Once again, for a government that talks about cutting red tape and overreach, this is rich.”

The province argues it is in the best position to hand out federal money properly and fairly. Nixon also accused the federal government of playing politics with the serious issue of housing.

“This is not about creating more red tape, this is about protecting Alberta and forcing the federal government to come sit down with the province and build to create more homes,” Nixon said.

Details of the upcoming legislation aren’t known, but Nixon said Alberta was looking at rules similar to Quebec’s.

Legislation in Quebec states no municipal or school body may enter a financial agreement with the federal government without authorization from the province.

“I think that’s a way for (the Alberta government) to control the funding distribution so they can take credit for it, not for them to actually provide the best services for the public,” said Courtney Walcott, city councillor for Calgary’s eighth ward. 

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