Alberta Politics

Rural Albertans supporting lazy high-rise condo dwelling urbanites, says Griffiths.

Doug Griffiths
Doug Griffiths

Fresh from a war of words with popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths responded the a question from Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman with this poorly thought-out retort in Question Period today:

“It could be asked by rural Albertans why 17 per cent of the population that lives in rural Alberta that has all the oil and gas revenue, does all the work, all the farms, all the agriculture and everything associated with it, goes to support urban Albertans who sit in high-rise condos and don’t necessarily contribute to the grassroots of this economy”.

There is a lot wrong with Minister Griffiths’ statement, but to start, he should take a closer look at the urban landscape the next time he drives through one of Alberta’s cities. Most urban Albertans are likely living in single-family detached houses in suburbs, not in high-rise condos downtown (this is probably something, as the Minister of Municipal Affairs, that he should be aware of).

I wonder if he would also agree with Wildrose MLA Gary Bikman that urban Albertans also lack common sense?

14 replies on “Rural Albertans supporting lazy high-rise condo dwelling urbanites, says Griffiths.”

I see The Zwoz even gave him a mulligan on that one and well…read Hansard tomorrow to see what happens 😉

Agree on making him a rural hero, but kind of cuts into an important source of Tory support since the rural south right isn’t ever coming back to them. Perhaps he might want to consider the difference between tactics and strategy. Oh, by the way Doug, bite my urban ass.

I wonder if you could post the text of Blakeman’s question? She’s not really known for being pro-rural and I’m curious if some rhetoric may have inspired a misunderstood tongue-in-cheek response…

Curious.. just an outside thought, but how did urban areas start.. by being rural. Thinking of the here and now… and not understanding the future. Keep it up Tories, you’re making way for people that understand and want to make a change.

The issue is not rural vs. urban, especially among the citizens if not always the politicians, but the inequitable dispersal of Alberta’s Industrial property taxes. The Industrial property taxes, Linear, Machinery and Equipment, Railway & Co-gen generate about 1.7-1.8 Billion in Revenue per year. Only about 6% of that makes it’s way into the urban municipalities which make up 83% of the population. In other words the urban municipalities (83%+ of Albertans) share under 500 million while the rural population (17% of Albertans) shares just under 1.4 Billion – note the B.

I assume and respect that all Albertans contribute to the wealth of Alberta so I feel that all should share this revenue in a more equitable manner. The discussion needs to start.

One northern rural municipality with about 3200 residents gets about 62 Million in property taxes per year – about 55M of it in Industrial taxes. That’s more property tax revenue than any Town (the closest is Canmore with about 33M) in Alberta and more than 9 of Alberta cities. This is a real issue.

There is a rural/urban divide however. If not, why is there an AAMD&C representing the rural municipalities MDs and Counties) and an AUMA representing the Urbans. The U in AUMA stands for Urban. To deny the realities of the issues, and to not have the discussion, will keep us where we are, and that should be unacceptable to all Albertans.

All numbers may be verified at

My apologies for the length of the reply, All the best to everyone.

Correction to the above post; My aplogies

The urban municipalities share just over 90 Million of the industrial property tax revenues per year to the Rurals 1.4Billion. (2010 figures – the discrepancy is larger now.)

The 400 million figure was the rural share of the industrial property taxes in 1996. The rural share is now 1.4 Billion (each year). In comparison the urban share fell from 97 million in 1996 to about 90 million today.

All the best, Don

When the Minister says that it’s something he’s heard people say, perhaps he misread the comment. Perhaps they were simply referring to MLA’s who have condos in Edmonton, you never know.

I think I hear… Klein/Presto politics of social resentment redux

Griffiths/Wildrose attitudes about rural virtues vs urban moochers are merely an updated and in-your-face rural chauvinism of ‘hard-working…severely normal Albertans’

Western Canada Concept/or The West Wants in type of Homeland politics at a provincial level.

This comment does not do anything for the towns that need people from urban centers to move to them.We must rebuild our small Alberta towns into places where people will want to move to and grow the communities.

There are many towns that have considered disincorporating so that they can also receive a share of the industrial tax base, a tax base that feed into the MDs or IDs or counties but not the towns. All the while the towns are forced to support the infrastructure for the people that work in those industries and for the industries themselves to some degree. Not really fair.

That said, Blakeman presented an urban argument for taking more tax money away from the rural and into urban areas. Griffiths tried to counter by presenting the rural counter argument (or his obviously flustered view of it). Blakeman did a good job by making him look like he should wear the duncecap but no one can believe that’s Griffiths’ actual opinion.

Tax money isn’t infinite. For every tax dollar given to one person, it has to be taken away from another person. I get the sense that the solution most people think is to simply transfer more money to urban jurisdictions as if it won’t have any impact on rural jurisdictions.

I think there is a disconnect between what urban dwellers want and what it takes to meet those needs and this argument is a perfect example of that. The discussion has been about the financial benefits of industrial tax revenue but what seems to be forgotten is that industrial taxes are generated by industrial facilities which directly impacts rural residents far more than urban ones. Think about it, how many urban dwellers:
-Have at least one oil production facility on their property or near their homes?
-Are included within one or more Emergency Response Zones of a sour gas well? How about six or seven?
-Have high tension power lines crossing their property.

How many new GHG generating power plants or landfills are built within city limits?

If you really want to move the debate forward, some mutual understanding would be in order. Urban municipalities are under a lot of financial stress to provide services not only to their residents but surrounding residents as well, that’s not in doubt. But rural assessment isn’t some unused, untapped bank account for urban municipalities to draw from whenever they want.

Typical have and have not argument. Doesn’t fix anything, just makes the playground more divisive. There should be a seven-second delay on ministerial soundbytes… or do as my parents always cautioned us, “Think twice before you speak” bonehead (my two-cents’ worth).

Rural taxation is an infinite pot of gold. 80% of the tax base is industry and pipelines – these taxpayers don’t get to vote. The high tax rates are exploitative.
The numbers are undeniable – 6% of the industrial wealth of Alberta goes to Urbans. And Industry agrees – its getting screwed.

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