Alberta’s latest population boom (4,000+ arrivals in three-months ending Oct. 1, 2012), has officials worried. Already municipal infrastructure is stressed and bursting at the seams.
Ministers warn Albertans they will have to dig deeper and spend ever-increasing amounts on infrastructure simply to keep up with sky-rocketing population growth.
PIC notes: What Ministers conspicuously fail to grasp is that such a hamster wheel of high-cost infrastructural expenditures rarely pays for itself. Its results are one more example of a Ponzi scheme. And Alberta tax payers will be the losers.
Alert raised over latest Alberta population boom
From Bryan Weismiller, Calgary Herald, January 25, 2013
People are once again moving to Alberta in droves. But rapid growth has spawned fears the province could face the same acute infrastructure, labour and housing pains felt during its last economic boom. “There’s cause for concern,” said Bob Barss, president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties. Adding hopefully, he said he didn’t think the cause was insurmountable and that working with urban and rural Alberta, the population issue could be solved.
Alberta has just experienced the biggest net influx of inter-provincial migration and immigration since 2006. During the mid-2000s, new arrivals put a huge infrastructural strain on the province. Similar growth is once more putting acute pressure on schools, hospital and housing in some areas. Infrastructure is feeling the squeeze and there’s a huge deficit in water and waste water.
Calgary Alderman Gordon Lowe points to jam-packed CTrains, bumper-to-bumper traffic and growth pressure in the new suburbs as proof municipal infrastructure is bursting at the seams. “We’ve been playing catch up since 2001” he said, “and we still have not fully caught up.” While hesitating to use the word “boom”, he still believes the city is in better shape than during the last period of rigorous growth because of previous investments it made.
Ben Brunnen, chief economist, Calgary Chamber of Commerce, says it’s evident that “big numbers” are pouring in. He expects the steady flow of new arrivals will mirror economic growth in 2013. Good news perhaps for business owners, but growth will have a negative impact on social services and the affordability of housing. Brunnen warned these areas could become stressed as more “people fall through the cracks” in a time of economic prosperity.
With that in mind, Louise Gallagher says: plan ahead before moving here. Spokeswoman for the Calgary Homeless Foundation, she worries people are racing to the city not knowing where they’re going to live. Finding a job can also be tough even in the hot job market although Alberta has the highest job vacancy rate in the country. “Our concern is that people will come and they’re not going to find a place they can afford,” Gallagher warned.
Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths acknowledged tough choices are ahead as Premier Alison Redford speaks of a looming fiscal crunch. “It’s different than last time because we’re not flush with revenue,” he said, referring to the economic boom in the mid-2000s. But Griffiths agrees the province needs to keep spending money on infrastructure to keep up with population growth. “Our economy will suffer horribly by not investing in the infrastructure we’ll need for the next 40 years,” he claimed.