Council to inject $330M into cash-strapped protective services
Calgary protective services on temporary life-support are now on the road to recovery thanks to a massive cash injection from the city yesterday.
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Council agreed in principle to tap into $330 million in Municipal Sustainability Initiative Funding for priority protective services needs, including $50 million in immediate top-up funding to ensure previous priority projects get started, and a refurbished Fire and Calgary Police Headquarters, said Ward 12 Alderman Ric McIver.
"If you take a look at the Davidson Building, that place was supposed to be a stop-gap, a temporary measure to get them by for a few years, and it was stretched out to almost 20 years," McIver said. "It’s about time we took a look at getting them a new place to operate out of when the old building is bursting at the seams.
"For me, this is a huge step forward. I’ve been talking about getting emergency services on the front end of the budget process for years, it’s something I’ve talked a lot about so, yeah, I’m very happy with the results."
Calgary has faced a protective services crunch over the past decade with the city’s massive growth and struggled to keep pace with the ongoing boom.
With an equivalent of two or three small cities moving into Calgary each year, McIver said the impetus for increased protective services funding was forced upon the city to ensure its residents’ safety.
For Calgary EMS, along with Calgary police and fire, an escalation in the costs of planned projects due to increased construction costs, combined with the compression of services into already cramped quarters and the sheer growth of the city’s needs had led to a dire situation.
"I think the challenge now is that even though the funding is in place, how quickly can we get it all built," said EMS chief Tom Sampson. "There’s a few places that I could use a new station today, so this is very good news for us and I’m delighted."
Ward 3 Alderman Jim Stevenson said the cash influx will help ease the burden of a $10-million shortfall at Saddleridge tri-service centre and he now hopes to break ground on a new station in August.
"It was a big deal for us to get that," Stevenson said.