Ammo for northern wildfires is running out, but one lawmaker is trying to make sure local governments in the oil and gas sector pay their share of the bill.
The oil patch in Alberta — the heart of the province’s oil industry — has been feeling pain over the past few years, as $50-a-barrel oil and lost oil sands investments have left the province hard hit by budget problems.
This week, Alberta used its legislature powers to flex the local government powers, tabling legislation that would give municipalities an ultimatum — take what the province gives them and pay their share of the long-term bill or else.
“The ability to rely on taxes from one area of your project for the benefit of another area is going to create massive tensions,” Wildrose Member of Parliament Jason Kenney said Wednesday.
Alberta Wildrose says Alberta’s share of oil and gas industry infrastructure costs has increased to $3.6 billion a year — almost the entire operating deficit of the City of Fort McMurray, and cost the provincial government about $1.4 billion a year to pay back, according to NDP officials.
Wildrose said it wants to cut taxes on oil and gas industry investments in the area to incentivize the industry to build infrastructure in Alberta. But a coalition of Alberta towns and cities opposes the idea, saying they don’t need an incentive to invest in their communities.
The controversy puts Kenney in a position of saying “I told you so,” after he said more than a year ago that the region needs more infrastructure dollars to fund its municipal bills. But Kenney says his position has not changed.
“If we want a healthy infrastructure [spending] program, we are going to have to put a price on energy producers that commit to investments in the province,” Kenney said.
Back in March, Wildrose proposed an amended version of the bill, which it said would work for the entire province and generate $800 million for municipalities by 2030. But the province felt strongly enough to table the new legislation, despite changes made in the March version.
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