Calgary is boom or bust, and right now, we are living in the bust. We have had it pretty good, especially during 2013 and 2014. But, Calgary’s economy is cyclical, and despite growing economic diversity, tied closely to the energy sector.
We have seen many of the big oil companies cut their staff and downsize their capital programs. We are all impacted by the price of commodities as well as the Calgary economic region employment rate.
What is our municipal government’s role in times of downturn? Should The City cut jobs, projects and services just as our major corporations have done? Or does government have a different role to play?
Municipal government helps drive economy
Government is one of the drivers of jobs and economy. We want to invest in job creation – and focus on investments in capital projects that are job creators in our local economy. Projects that move forward our ability to move people around our city including asphalt for roads and sidewalk repairs. Projects like putting in fibre technology to strengthen our tech capabilities, and maintenance and upgrades to our current assets like recreation centres, parks and pathways that are so important to our quality of life here.
Our strategy for resilience
In an economic downturn, just like other companies, The City of Calgary loses revenue: from property taxes, from franchise fees and from the sale of goods and services. So we have to find ways to cover those losses because we are committed to continuing to provide the programs and services you want and need.
How are we going to do that? We have a two-part strategy:
- Maintain our services - We are continuing to find efficiencies within our organization. For example, the recent Zero-Based Review for the Fire Department found a potential $15 million in efficiencies. Council also lowered the tax rate to 3.2% for 2016 as part of the 2016 Resilience Operating Budget.
- Stimulate Calgary’s economy :
- Cross-corporate programs to monitor and manage our Economic Resilience.
- Advance and accelerate our capital investments in needed infrastructure creating jobs and aligning with our provincial and federal counterparts as they invest in infrastructure as well.
- Create and implement new and sustainable infrastructure funding models to accommodate Calgary’s unpredictable population growth.
- Recast our Capital Plan and Cash Flow with annual estimates that fully consider The City’s capacity and constraints.
- Take advantage of current softer construction demands to deliver more capital investment.
And that is great news for our economy. By investing in our capital programs, we are creating jobs right here in Calgary and helping to stabilize our economic growth. Capital can be the bridge between a downturn and upturn. By investing today we continue Calgary’s exciting momentum so Calgary continues to be a great place to make a living and a great place to make a life.
Capital projects – advanced up to 2016
These following projects are being proposed to Council to be advanced to 2016 because they:
- align with the Provincial and Federal budgets,
- contribute to a modest advancement in light of the current economic downturn and
- allow The City to achieve these while taking the opportunity to recast the capital program.
For more complete information on these projects, please see the full Council report, Proposed Adjustments to the 2016 Budget
Looking for more information on The City's finances? Visit our financial overview for the big picture.