Tuesday the Alberta government released latest budget information for the province. Finance and Enterprise Minister Iris Evans released the province's First Quarter Update, showing a forecast surplus of $8.5 billion for 2008-09, $7 billion higher than predicted in Budget 2008.
Higher-than-budgeted resource revenues will enable government to increase its savings this year and cover the full cost of two new initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. Cash available as a result of the surplus will be used to create one $2-billion fund to advance carbon capture and storage projects and another $2-billion fund to support energy-saving public transit initiatives (Green TRIP). An additional $1 billion will be placed into government's capital account for infrastructure projects. Another $2.5 billion will be placed into savings, boosting government savings this year to $3.1 billion.
"Alberta's economy continues to do well despite a general slowdown in global economic activity," said Evans. "The additional revenue from the surplus gives us the opportunity to address the priorities of Albertans, including caring for our environment through the carbon capture and Green TRIP funds."
Alberta continues to prosper while housing values find a balance with supply and demand. The affordability of homes and alternatives have been levelling out this year. While some areas are seeing a decline in sales and downward pressure on price, others are experiencing higher sales volumes than previous years. Signs of a market correction rather than a bubble burst as some have speculated.
Economy in Central Alberta is benefiting from the provincial prosperity and Red Deer remains a solid investment opportunity. Red Deer already has plans to take advantage of Green TRIP dollars and you can watch for them and other Central Alberta communities to do the same.
The benefit that this could have is greater access to smaller developing communities to mass transit infrastructure dollars. The increase in transit availability, increases mobility from smaller centres to larger, as well as improving traffic congestion which of course is more desirable for attracting residents to remain or move to the larger centres.
Green TRIP? Green TRIP stands for: Green Transit Incentives Program (Green TRIP). An initiative by the province of Alberta that will provide $2 billion in funding assistance and incentives to improve and expand local, regional, and inter-city transit systems. The program will support new public transit alternatives throughout the province, which will significantly reduce the number of vehicles on our roads and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
What is quite interesting and beneficial to all Albertans is the program is open to all municipalities, regional entities, non-profit organizations, and private sector groups. Funding for the program will be allocated on a project-specific basis. There is no per-capita formula.
It will be interesting to see how the creativity and leadership of the municipalities comes through regarding application, and the number of municipalities that take advantage of the dollars available.
Your Friend in Real Estate,