Reaction is mixed around the region after Mandel’s move to direct more provincial funding his way and centralize power in the hands of the mega cities. According to Mandel there is an imbalance in provincial grant allocations that favour regional neighbours and work against the City. (page 8, State of the City Address).
An example used was policing costs. It is true that both Edmonton and Strathcona County receive a $16 per cap to support their policing services. Our municipality does receive an additional small grant to cover two additional police positions. Some municipalities receive more.
The provincial funding formula also supports investment in cities that give them tremendous benefits. Universities and specialty medical centres receive massive amounts of taxpayer dollars and are placed in metro centres with dense populations because that makes the most cost effective use of taxpayers’ dollars.
Universities are used by the surrounding communities, but the economic spin off benefits both the province and the City of Edmonton. The spending power of U of A students and employees together is estimated at $5.2 billion annually, with approximately $4.5 billion of that spending occurring in Alberta, mainly in the greater Edmonton area.
Regional municipalities envy the significant provincial tax payer dollars used in cities to build and maintain specialized medical facilities like the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. When our children and elders are seriously ill, when our families are in their greatest stress, we travel hours to have access to specialized hospitals, funded with our taxpayer dollars.
I believe provincial grants are justifiable in long term sustainability of a population that needs to be spread through our province in regional centres and rural areas to provide the food, products, jobs and homes. This is about regional cooperation and communication and the need for more of it.