01/26/2016 13:55 EST | Updated 01/26/2017 00:12 EST

Big city mayors meet with Alberta NDP, talk co-operation, taxes not on table

EDMONTON — The mayors of Calgary and Edmonton say they are working more closely with the province in the hope of improving services without spending lots of new money.

Naheed Nenshi and Don Iveson met with the NDP cabinet Tuesday in Edmonton.

Nenshi says they talked about collaborating on ways to bolster transit, policing and housing, as well as on ways to reduce poverty.

Iveson says improvements in housing for the poor could save the province money by reducing health care and justice system costs.

He says one idea is to allow cities to finance projects with the province.

Giving the cities more taxation powers was not on the table.

Nenshi says some of these ideas could come to fruition over the next year to 18 months.

"We are saying investments in affordable housing can save you money in health care, can save you money in policing," Nenshi said Tuesday. "It costs about $100,000 per year to keep someone in the shelter system."

Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee said the sluggish economy will have a bearing on how quickly the province can move on these ideas.

"Given the current fiscal concerns with the province we are definitely talking more about non-monetary partnerships at this point," she said.

Larivee said the province will work with the cities on infrastructure projects that make the most sense.

The Alberta government has been talking for years about creating charters for its two largest cities to give them more power to deal with growth pressures.

Discussions have focused on ways to give cities more autonomy and authority to deal with problems within their boundaries.

The city charter idea was launched in 2012 by former premier Alison Redford.