EDMONTON, Alta. — The Alberta government is considering issuing bonds that would generate revenue to fund large-scale highway projects.
If Cabinet approves the proposal, bonds may be used to fund the completion of ring roads in Edmonton and Calgary, expected to cost about $1.6 billion. Completion of the ring roads would alleviate traffic in both cities dramatically, and the province is eager to proceed with the projects.
Cabinet ministers are expected to debate the issue of using bonds to fund highway projects in Canmore today and tomorrow. Supporters of the initiative say Albertans would be able to buy into the future of the province with a guaranteed rate of return.
Investors would be able to redeem the bonds after a set period of time, cashing in on government-set interest rates. The proposal would fly in the face of Alberta’s current rules that prevent the province from racking up debt to fund infrastructure projects. Any provincial department must have the cash in the bank before embarking on a major construction project, but as a result of that, many major projects are placed on the back burner for lengthy periods of time.
A recent financial review commission recommended the province lift restraints that force departments to pay for all construction projects within a year.
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