Sherwood Park News - December 27, 2018
First, I would like to thank you all for reaching out to me over the past year. Your ideas, concerns, and thoughtful feedback regarding the work our NDP government is doing has been greatly appreciated and I am looking forward to more conversations with you in the new year.
The number one issue in our communities continues to be jobs and the economy. In the most recent fiscal update, Alberta’s deficit was down and economic recovery continued in the first six months of the year, which keeps us on track to balance the budget as planned in 2023. In addition, compared to last year, 42,000 new jobs were created in the province. The average weekly earnings remain strong. While these numbers are positive, we know the recovery has not reached everyone yet and we will not stop working until it does. It has been 70 years since the last pipeline to tidewater was built and decades of failure by successive federal governments have left Albertans unable to transport our oil to new markets through modern, well-regulated pipelines. Frankly, this puts our recovery at risk and hurts working Albertans. In 2018, we saw this during the unprecedented losses in the price of each barrel because of the differential.
That is why Premier Rachel Notley is mandating an across-the-board reduction of 365,000 barrels per day in response, and it will remain until new transport capacity comes online next year.This measure is only for the short-term and we will review our reduction every month, adjusting it as needed. Since the Premier’s announcement on curtailment, we have already seen a positive impact on the differential. Our medium-term plan to address the backlog and get our oil to market is to buy upwards of 7,000 rail cars to transport our oil.
Our long-term plans are to upgrade and refine our energy products here at home. In the past few months, we announced that we are doubling the incentives we put in place to attract investment in the value-added sector; this aligns with the goals of our local municipal leaders. Over the past year, I have worked hard making sure that Strathcona County is always at the table during these discussions. At the end of the day, the Industrial Heartland has already seen success in attracting Inter Pipeline’s investment because of the Petrochemical Diversification Program, including a projected $30 billion in new capital by 2030. In the 2018 document, “The Heart of the Opportunity,” Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association outlined the elements needed to ensure a competitive investment climate. I want to take a moment to thank them for their work in putting this together and highly recommend the read.
Over the last year, we invested nearly $2.3 billion in capital maintenance and renewal for major rehabilitation on our roads and bridges, such as the work on Highway 628, as part of the government’s commitment to fostering economic competitiveness and creating jobs.
I am grateful for the many residents who have written to me about the safety of Highway 628. The new lights we installed are the result of many conversations and letters. In 2018, we also made improvements to several intersections on this segment of Highway 628 to improve traffic flow and enhance safety for road users: four kilometres of repaving east of Anthony Henday Drive; intersection widening at Range Roads 231 and 232; and paving the intersection where the traffic signals are located at Range Road 233.
As always, please do not hesitate to call my constituency office for more information. I am wishing everyone a safe holiday with your families and many blessings in the New Year.
Estefania Cortes-Vargas is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Strathcona-Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any comments or questions concerning this column or other provincial government issues, please contact Estefania at her constituency office located at #19 – 99 Wye Rd., Sherwood Park, T8B 1M1. Telephone: 780-416-2492 or e-mail: email@example.com.