Provincial government walks away from social housing

Mayor challenges provincial government elimination of grants in lieu of taxes for social housing.

Dear Editor,

In 2015, the Government of Alberta unexpectedly eliminated the Grants in Lieu of Taxes funding for seniors’ apartments and social housing units operated by public housing management bodies. This means that the government has downloaded to municipalities more than $15 million in costs to support over 25,000 social housing units. The Town of Ponoka’s share of these costs was $29,950 in 2014.

Our municipality had been receiving this funding for decades. The annual funding was used to cover property management and utility maintenance programs provided to 92 social housing and seniors’ housing units in our community.

Our council believes that the Government of Alberta should continue to be responsible for paying these costs, similar to how all other property owners must pay for their share of municipal infrastructure and services.

If the government does not pay for these costs, we will either need to allocate this amount to town residents as other property owners which would mean a 0.5 per cent increase in property taxes or we will need to reduce services in other areas. Neither option is fair to our residents.

We therefore urge all your readers to contact MLA Ron Orr at Lacombe.ponoka@assembly.ab.ca and the Minister of Seniors and Housing at seniors.minister@gov.ab.ca and urge them to reinstate the Grant in Lieu of Tax so that these costs of $29,950 are not downloaded on our community and our property tax payers.

Mayor Rick Bonnett

Town of Ponoka