Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Alberta is banking on anticipated revenue from an expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline to balance the budget within five years.

Ceci says revenue from the yet-to-be built expansion, along with expected revenue from a replacement Enbridge pipeline to Wisconsin, will be factored into forecasts in the budget he is to table on Thursday.

He says it makes financial sense to include the pipelines now —given the expectation they will get completed — and the figures can be adjusted as the situation develops.

“That is definitely the hopes of the companies that are involved,” Ceci said Tuesday. “We’ve built (the revenue) into budget because that’s what everybody believes will happen.”

In 2016, the federal government approved the Enbridge Line 3 replacement to Wisconsin, as well as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, which would triple the amount of crude shipped from Edmonton to the port at Burnaby, B.C.

But the Trans Mountain expansion is facing delays and challenges.

B.C. Premier John Horgan is asking for a legal ruling on whether his province can restrict higher levels of oil from coming into B.C. while his government reviews oil-spill safety measures.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said Trans Mountain is critical to Canada’s energy future and she plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to give her the power to curtail oil shipments to B.C. in retaliation.

She has said that pipeline bottlenecks and limited access to overseas markets are forcing Alberta’s crude to sell at a discount, costing thousands of jobs and leaving billions of dollars of profit on the table.

Opposition United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney said it’s risky for Ceci to count on future revenue from Trans Mountain.

“We obviously hope that Trans Mountain gets built quickly, but what we’ve seen is a year of delays already and the very strong potential of yet further delays,” Kenney said.

“This is putting a lot of eggs in one uncertain basket, and that’s not how you budget.”

Ceci made the pre-budget announcement at a downtown tech startup company that creates virtual simulations for proposed homes and work sites.

Finance ministers traditionally get new shoes prior to budget day. This year, Ceci stood next to a screen displaying a computer-generated avatar of himself in loafers that toggled from shimmering electric green to dark purple to traditional black and grey.

He said the budget will continue with key NDP themes, but will include a detailed plan to balance the books.

“The budget is going to be balanced in 2023,” said Ceci. “We are focused on constraining expenditures (and) costs down the road, eliminating … waste where we find it, and diversifying our economy.”

The government won’t make deep cuts to balance the budget earlier, he said. This year’s deficit is pegged at $9.1 billion.

Kenney said a plan tied to the mercurial ups and downs of oil prices is not a plan.

“He (Ceci) has put on those virtual reality goggles and he can’t see clearly,” said Kenney. “He seems to be counting on good luck to get the budget balanced.”

Notley took over in 2015 as oil prices, the wellspring of Alberta’s economy, were falling by half from previous highs of more than US$100 a barrel. Oil prices have inched up since then, but Notley’s government has avoided deep cuts to programs and services, saying that would worsen the economy.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Fires highlight need for more volunteers

Short-staffed volunteer fire departments in Elk Valley, South Country rely on mutual aid

Motorcyclist grateful to be alive, thanks fellow drivers

Over a dozen people stopped to assist Lori Hann after she tumbled off her bike on Hwy 3, Saturday

Local athletes ready for BC Summer Games

Twenty-four athletes from the Elk Valley and South Country will compete at the 2018 BC Summer Games.

GearHub staff staying positive after fire

Sporting goods store to fully reopen by end of July

UPDATE: New lead narrows the search for Serval cat

UPDATE, July 17: A new lead has narrowed the search for Aquila… Continue reading

BC Games: Day 1 comes to an end

Medals have already been handed out following one day of competition in the 2018 BC Summer Games

The Free Press editor wins awards

Editor Phil McLachlan has been recognized at the 2018 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.

BC Wildfire update on Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

RCMP help to save goats from wildfire

The fast-approaching wildfire, sparked Thursday, forced the evacuation of five homes

VIDEO: Near drowning captured on popular B.C. river

Search and Rescue manager says the popular pastime of floating in the summer is inherently dangerous

Crosswalk vandalism leaves black mark for Cowichan as B.C. Games begin

Rainbow crosswalk defaced just days after being painted

Photo gallery: BC Games Day 1

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

UPDATED: Anti-pipeline campers digging in as eviction deadline expires

The City of Burnaby had ordered the Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters out for violating bylaws

Trump was taped talking of paying Playboy model: AP source

Source says former personal lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded discussion prior to 2016 election

Most Read