Alberta Premier Alison Redford says taxes shouldn’t be hiked to pay for flood relief

By ,QMI Agency

ALDERSYDE – Listen to the premier.

How much will the City of Calgary be on the hook for rebuilding city infrastructure?

A preliminary list shows city costs pegged at $256.6 million.

The final price tag will be higher.

“This is an exceptional situation,” says Redford at her Stampede breakfast held this year in this hamlet north of High River, the Ground Zero of southern Alberta flooding.

“You know I said the world has changed. We’re going to sit down with municipalities and figure out what we need to do to rebuild and that will be the next step going forward.”

Now please read slowly.

“It is going to be a complicated business but we are not making the assumption there needs to be any city tax increase right now to deal with this.

“Let’s take the time to figure out what’s going on and then we’re going to rebuild.”

The only city tax increase right now is the one city council will thumbs-up or thumbs-down July 22.

This is the tax increase adding up to a 13% hike, a double-digit jump on the city side of the property tax bill caused when the city collected provincial tax money Redford’s government didn’t want collected.

All indications are at least some of those supporting taking the money will use “flood relief” as the new option for the $52 million this year and every year hereafter.

All their old options didn’t do so well.

What is the commitment of the premier?

The premier is the one who cut a cheque for $1 billion just to get the flood relief money machine going.

Redford is the one who pledged how her government would “do everything it takes” to get citizens and municipalities on their feet.

On Sunday, Redford adds: “There will not be a time where we roll up the flag and walk away and say ‘OK, we are done.’”

Tough stuff.

The province, who didn’t want the money collected before the flood is not saying they want that money, their money, collected now.

And they are the ones putting the cash up front for flood relief.

Redford also says, after discussions with Ottawa, she expects considerable funds coming from the federal government’s flood relief program.

“Anything the federal funds cover will certainly be covered under that program.”

Just another fact. There is also $295 million in the city’s rainy-day fund, a stash of cash ballooning in recent years.

At the breakfast the premier once again mentions her government’s pledge of support.

While speaking, Redford tells the crowd she’s “feeling pretty shaky.”

“I know there are a lot of people here today who are feeling pretty shaky and going through some really tough times and we want you to now we’re thinking about you and care about you and we’re going to be here for you.”

Meanwhile, lookee here. Justin Trudeau.

Folks come up. They want snapshots taken with the man. One guy relates an anecdote about Justin’s father and it’s not an angry yarn.

Trudeau meets Redford for the first time and is asked by reporters about a federal Liberal leader visiting a Progressive Conservative premier’s breakfast.

“You know what. There are a lot of Progressive Conservatives who don’t feel at home in the approach that Stephen Harper’s extreme right wing Conservatives are taking.”

Trudeau tells us he’s headed to High River to work.

“I’m looking forward to being able to get my boots dirty and roll up my sleeves and help out.”

The High River flood is never far from here.

A tearful Michel Banks-Kilburn speaks to the premier.

Michel evacuated June 20 from her second-floor apartment.

She couldn’t take her cat Sammi, scared Sammi might drown in the rescue by front-end loader and thinking she would be safe on the second floor.

She left lots of food and water expecting to be back in a two or three days.

When Michel got back after two weeks, no Sammi.

She searched. She went to shelters. She believes her cat is alive and holds Sammi’s picture in her hand.

“She’s the most beautiful cat and I know anybody who found her would feel the same way but I’m just begging you, please bring her back to me.

“She’s my peace. I need her back. My apartment is so empty without my baby. She’s like my baby.”

Michel says in this flood people have “felt helpless and hopeless” and she doesn’t know if she can even believe how big a flood it was in High River.

Many now look for their pets.

“All they want is their animals, who they love and adore and have looked after, just to console them and everything would feel so much better.

“It really would.”

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