The City of Leduc has been working towards the completion of the 65th Avenue interchange for over 20 years. In order to complete this 95 million dollar project, the City indicated it would contribute $12.5 million. The Province would contribute $33 million and a projected $50 million coming from the Federal government. I want to acknowledge that I am in support of this project, however, as I further review the details available to me as a Leduc citizen, I question the value it will bring to the City of Leduc’s taxpayers.
My first concern focuses on the announcement in January 2019 that the 65th Avenue interchange would create 8,300 direct and indirect jobs. In November of 2020, when the provincial government publicly committed to their contribution of $33 million, it was estimated that this project would only create 471 direct and indirect jobs. That is nearly an 8,000 difference of employment opportunities, which I assume was the key indicator that would have prompted the City to invest $12.5 million.
Looking at Leduc census data from 2016-2019, “Business located at Edmonton International Airport OR on Edmonton International Airport lands”, in reference to the hundreds of millions that have gone into development, the census shows an average increase of only 57 new jobs per year by Leduc citizens. The estimated average residential property tax payment is $2,588 per year multiplied by 57, equaling an estimated return on investment of $147,516 in annual tax income for the City of Leduc.
It is estimated 20,000 people work within businesses located at/around the EIA, and as of the 2019 Leduc Census, 796 of these employees live in Leduc. I would estimate the majority of the remaining 19,000 employees live in Edmonton and area. Therefore, I question why Leduc taxpayers are contributing so much to this project when other municipalities have more to gain with no apparent investment.
Another concern I have is how much more taxpayer dollars the City of Leduc will contribute to this project. When attending the “Virtual Town Hall for Local Businesses” on March 30th 2021, I asked if the City will be spending more than the allocated $12.5 million if the Federal Government does not come through with the anticipated $50 million. I received no direct response to my question, and I am wondering if any of this includes the millions already spent on this project.
If elected, I would invest taxpayers dollars in a way that creates greater returns and make sure that the benefits are more clearly defined and communicated to our local citizens. I would also advocate to other surrounding communities to contribute their fair share to this project.
I challenge the City today to reassess the value that this project would bring to Leduc’s taxpayers and if there are other avenues that would better “Support Local, Support You!”