times, it’s said, call for extraordinary measures. And I doubt that many in
Calgary would question that right now is an extraordinary time.
point, recapping all of the things going against the province and our city in
particular feels unnecessary. Whether it’s oil prices, the housing market, or
job losses, the challenges Calgary currently faces are well understood.
a dismal backdrop, the city is working to figure out what we can do to help
Calgary through this downturn and ensure that we’re still intact and ready to
go when conditions improve.
To that end,
at the next City Council meeting I will propose that we give businesses across
Calgary a $30 million rebate on their business tax this year and an additional
$30 million in 2017.
It’s a plan
that’s certain to raise any number of questions. How will we pay for this?
Could this money be better used elsewhere? Why this and not something else?
we know, has been on a good run over the last few years. During those more
fortunate times, the City has been prudent enough to put away almost $300 million
into what’s known as the Fiscal Stability Reserve. The tax relief I’m proposing
will come from this rainy day fund.
Of course, the
solid financial footing that Calgary enjoys is no accident. The City has made
prudent choices around spending, which include not raiding the piggybank at the
first sign of trouble. This certainly isn’t that.
drop in oil prices was enough to throw the entire country into a recession.
Canada will be lucky to avoid the same fate this year and Alberta definitely
won’t. As for Calgary, it’s no surprise that we’re at the epicentre of this
I don’t know a single person without a friend or family member looking for
work. Jobs are the bedrock of any economy and it wasn’t long ago that this type
of unemployment would have been unthinkable in Alberta. But here we are.
The City is
already going ahead with plans to help our economy become more resilient in the
medium and long term, but the positive effects of these will take time to show
up on the ground. Tax relief for businesses will provide an immediate
counterweight to the economic shock we’re now facing.
It will by
no means be a panacea, but it will help small and medium businesses at a time
when they need it most. Whether a coffee shop, a contractor, an oil company, or
a retailer, you don’t have to look far to find a business that’s dealing with
falling revenues and higher costs.
investment made in businesses right now will be paid back as they continue to
hire staff, meet payrolls, and pay taxes. Helping local businesses stay on
their feet during this downturn fosters a virtuous cycle with direct and
indirect economic benefits for the city as a whole. Everyone, after all, works
good times, our local businesses account for a disproportionately large amount
of the city’s operating budget. Now that times aren’t as good, it’s the City’s
turn to step up and support them.
The city has
the financial strength to pay for this plan while still maintaining a healthy
reserve fund, a strong financial position, and ample liquidity. The businesses
that we’ll be supporting now, which helped build the fund in the first place,
will be the same ones replenishing it in the years to come.
A rainy day
fund, by definition, exists for when times get tough. As the rain starts to
fall on Calgary in earnest, it’s incumbent on the city to open up an umbre
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.