page contents Vote Dylan Bressey, candidate for Grande Prairie City Council. Election 2017. page contents

Speech from the Throne

You may be interested in reading or watching the Speech from the Throne. It lays out the legislative agenda of our new government.

From a municipal perspective, three parts stuck out to me:

"My government will propose amendments to the Municipal Government Act. These will enable municipalities to use property tax incentives to attract investment and create jobs."

I look forward to seeing these proposals. I regularly get asked by people why we don't have any tax incentives to encourage people to develop land in the City (which grows jobs and leads to the property owner paying more taxes in the long run). The simple answer: the Municipal Government Act doesn't give us a lot of legal ways to offer these incentives. Having more tools available to us will be a good thing.

"And third, making life better for all Albertans, by ensuring the quality and effectiveness of our public services, especially in health care and education, and by supporting the most vulnerable in our society."

I was disappointed to not see more detail about this, but I was happy to see a mention of the vulnerable in our society.

I hope we see the province do more to help those struggling with addiction, mental health, and homelessness. I especially hope we see a commitment to funding youth homelessness (youth shelters don't currently receive core funding from the province).

This is a big need in our community. I'd also suggest that, since it is so wrapped up in health care and because GP serves people from many communities, this is largely a provincial responsability.

I want these people cared for for their own sake. I also want them cared for to decrease social disorder in our community. But I also think that, if the government is serious about saving costs, caring for people (rather than continuously cycling them through the health and criminal justice systems) usually makes fiscal sense.

"My government will implement a strategy to combat the wave of crime that has victimized too many Albertans, in part by hiring more Crown prosecutors, and providing additional resources to police to respond to such terrible crimes as the exploitation of children."

I'm VERY excited to hear a commitment to bringing on more Crown prosecutors. That is a very big need in our community.

But I am concerned about the commitment to provide additional resources for policing.

Most municipalities have their police paid for by the province. Cities pay for their own police.

Right now, City of Grande Prairie residents pay for their own RCMP services through their property taxes. However, surrounding municipalities have their core policing paid for by the province. So City of Grande Prairie residents also pay for police in surrounding municipalities through their provincial taxes.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, City households had a 15% lower median income than County households. Proportionately, the City also had 1.5 times as many lone parent families and 2 times as many low income families as the County. And yet these City families need to pay far more towards policing than those living just outside the city. It makes no sense to me that a much higher tax burden for policing is placed on lower income families just because they live in the City rather than the County. This is a fundamental injustice, and it is present all across Alberta.

I hope that the province doesn't increase this inequity between residents who may live very close to one another but happen to live on opposite sides of a city/county boundary.

I hope that this commitment to fund more police doesn't just apply to the municipalities where the province pays for policing. I hope that urban municipalities which pay for their own policing see benefit from increased provincial investment.

I do have a great idea for the provincial government: it is taking balancing the budget very seriously. It is also wanting to see more money for police. A great way to help provincial expenses AND have money to expand policing: end the antiquated, unjust, nonsensical funding formula that sees some municipalities paying for their own police and others not. The Municipal Government Act is very clear that it is primarily a municipal, not provincial, responsibility to provide safe communities. It makes sense to require ALL municipalities to pay for the police protection of their residents.