Despite posting a $2.4 billion surplus, the UCP's latest provincial budget didn't seem to buy that much support in Airdrie last week.
The Alberta government tabled its 2023 budget on Feb. 28, highlighting a $2.4 billion surplus, a record $24.5 billion invested into health care, and a spending increase of 4.1 per cent from 2022.
However, virtually every local stakeholder our reporters interviewed had some qualms with it, arguing the budget falls short of meeting the needs of this fast-growing community. In the realm of public health care and education in particular, stakeholders seemed quite discontent with the crumbs provided in the province's latest fiscal update.
At the public school board level, Rocky View Schools Board of Trustees Chair Norma Lang told us the division was disappointed in the lack of commitment from the province to fund new school builds in Cochrane, Airdrie, or Chestermere. While provincial funds were allocated for a Francophone school in Airdrie, Lang argued that future facility will do little to assuage the space crunch RVS is currently facing at many of its Airdrie schools.
Mayor Peter Brown was similarly vocal in his criticisms of how the recent budget fell short of supporting the infrastructure needs of his city. Brown even said as much to Finance Minister Travis Toews during the minister's visit last Friday.
And Airdrie Health Foundation Executive Director Michelle Bates told us her organization was also disappointed in a lack of concrete support to ease the immediate strains of the city's urgent care centre.
Heading into a provincial election, it's clear the governing UCP is going to focus attention on appeasing the communities where the election will most likely be decided. This year, that means Calgary – a battleground that could swing either way in determining which party will govern Alberta.
But where do Calgary's satellite communities like Airdrie fall on the party's radar? Based on the lack of attention paid to Airdrie's needs in the Feb. 28 budget, it feels like the UCP may take voters' support in the this city for granted.