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Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions on the information in the proposed 2019-2022 Service Plans and Budgets? Check our list of frequently asked questions. 

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City services


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About City Services

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​We are spending less because capital funding is smaller over the next business cycle.

Safety is the number one priority and available capital funds  are invested there. There will be fewer buses purchased. Less money will be spent on maintenance and upgrades of customer information technologies and tools such as onboard mobile computers, cameras, web tools, and general technology-related software and hardware.​

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An operating base investment of $350,000 will improve the City Auditor’s Office assurance coverage and minimum level of service by:

  • Improving audit efficiency through additional resource investment in data analytics, continuous monitoring and desktop audits; and
  • Increasing risk-based audit, advisory and investigative responsiveness through reallocation of non-audit functions to a new position.
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Reduced service levels in parks and open spaces will be done in areas that are less used by citizens, therefore having minimal impacts on you. For example, garbage collection or grass trimming may be reduced in smaller community parks. Parks work will be focused on activities such as mowing at highly used parks and sport fields.

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We have many Indigenous Calgarians who are homeless and need access to affordable housing. (Point in Time Count, April 2018).  (The City’s Housing Needs Assessment, November 2018).

We want to partner with groups and help build more affordable housing options for Indigenous persons living in Calgary.

The Affordable Housing service plan wants to create one full-time staff position for an Affordable Housing resource to:

  • Continue to engage and build relationships with Indigenous leaders, serving organizations and Indigenous Calgarians to further define the need and identify gaps.
  • Identify opportunities and collaborate with the affordable housing serving sector to deliver culturally appropriate housing for urban Indigenous Calgarians.
  • Coordinate and support planning approvals for off-reserve Indigenous housing development applications.

This position will help Calgary’s non-market housing sector use and maximize provincial and federal funding.

(In 2017 the provincial government committed $120 million over five years and the federal government committed $225 million over ten years, specifically for off-reserve Indigenous housing.

The Government of Canada will be releasing unique housing strategies for Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities soon.)

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The Calgary Police Service has proposed a 2019 - 2022 budget with no cuts or reductions. We have maximized existing income, costs and reserve funds to deliver core functions and mandates while meeting current and increasing service demands.  Our proposed budget includes an increase in 2021 and 2022. This will help us meet recruiting targets within existing capacity, an increased need for police services and our city’s growth.​

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Calgary Fire Department (CFD) is getting new operating funds of $12.1 million over the next four years. This is to support growth in new communities and help close gaps in Effective Response Force (ERF) performance; this will improve CFD’s ability to respond to major incidents and better serve our new communities.

Several reductions have been proposed to address budget constraints:

  • CFD will permanently remove one ancillary apparatus from the existing fleet in 2019 and reduce 10 firefighter positions. This will be a rescue unit and will impact the fire department’s overall performance when a fire occurs, and/or responding to motor vehicle collisions. This is a budget reduction of $1.7 million.
  • The department also has a one-year deferral of $3.5M in the budget, for 20 firefighters; this will impact the overall performance of both specialized resources and response system across the city.
  • The capital budget was also reduced through the budget process and this will mean using aging stations and fleet for longer periods of time.
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You’ll find this information in the 2019-2022 Service Plans and Budgets.

CPS offers six service pages for their strategies and recommendations on what to do:  

  • less of,
  • more of and,
  • continue doing.

They also provide breakdown of CPS’ operating and capital budget. For more info about salaries and wages, the Supplemental Information document outlines 2019-2022 operating and capital budgets by not only service lines, but by departments and business units.


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Hearing from you


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Hearing from you

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During our budget process, we wanted to use your existing feedback; not only as information for Council, but also to inform City employees who were developing their lines of service.

As the One Calgary process unfolded, our Corporate Research and Engage teams conducted  new research and engagement from you to gather citizen input on One Calgary specifically.

This meant we used over 275,000 pieces of your input on our services (not just specific to budget), and targeted our “net new” research to fill in any gaps.

Our approach to engagement and research in the One Calgary process has been different than any other previous budget cycle. Existing feedback and inputs from you have been used throughout the progression of One Calgary, as information for Council and to Service Owners as they developed their service lines. In listening to what you’ve said in the past as well as current views, this resulted in significant cost savings for The City as we didn’t start from ground zero in terms of research and engagement.

This report has insights from research and engagement conducted in October 2018. We’ve been doing engagement and research for One Calgary since late 2017. This report adds additional information to our existing data. The strategy has been to use existing research and engagement insights from you gathered through other efforts and then used to inform service delivery and budgets . This process has 4 phases:

  • Phase 1: your input used to set Council Directives (Nov-Dec 2017) through consideration of existing insights.
  • Phase 2: your input used to set value characteristics, service targets & refine services (Mar-Sep 2018) through new research and engagement efforts with you and the business community.
  • Phase 3: 2018 September service plan previews enabled you to provide your input at committee meetings.
  • Phase 4: new engagement and research.

This report provides the findings from Phase 4, including presenting new content to participants on public-facing service lines to get detailed responses on investment strategies and service drivers. The responses expanded on and validated previous insights that have been presented to Council.

Phase 4 consists of three distinct activities:

  • Online engagement: through the City’s Engagement Portal, individual service lines were presented to you for feedback. 522 pieces of input were collected, providing insight on the strategies and drivers presented by Service Owners. We also extended an offer to anyone wanting additional support providing feedback to contact 311.
  • In-person engagement: through pop-up events in each ward, we held 14 in-person events, resulting in 727 conversations about City services and their alignment to your priorities. In-person sessions in accessible venues gave us feedback from immigrant community groups, religious leaders, and young people (through City Hall School and The Mayor’s Environmental Expo). Targeted sessions were aimed at harder-to-reach populations or those who work with these populations. We defined “harder-to-reach” as people often facing circumstances that make it more difficult for them to participate in public engagement).
  • Research focus groups: five focus groups each focused on a different citizen priority and provided the opportunity for 115 citizens to provide input on service delivery.

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The official source of information for all City of Calgary programs and services, including the One Calgary 2019-2022 Service Plans and Budgets, is calgary.ca.

We encourage you to use your own judgment when accessing information from other sources.​

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Our Corporate Research Team conducts a variety of surveys every year. These surveys touch on almost every element of The City, from the perception of services and service value to citizen satisfaction, the economy, infrastructure, City communications, and beyond. Depending on the nature of the topic and the project, surveys can vary in scope, size, and methodology.

Unless otherwise noted, surveys managed by the Corporate Research Team are statistically valid and representative. Making sure surveys are statistically valid and representative is typically achieved through random sampling using random digit dialling; this ensures that each and every member of a population has an equal probability of being selected and included in the survey sample group. 


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City business planning and budgeting


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City business planning and budgeting

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Each of our 61 services has identified more “refined specializations” of the service. For example, the service of “Recreation Opportunities” is aquatics & fitness, arenas & athletic parks and golf. This information for services is  on the first page of each service’s plan and budget, under the title: “What the service includes”.

In addition, more details about the service such as the description, the need the service fulfills, and what the service delivers, can also be found on the first page of each service’s plan and budget.​

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Each City service plan is written with you in mind. However, because this is a plan and budget, there may be items that appear internally focused, but are relevant for Council to make informed decisions to pass the budget.

On page one, we identify what the service delivers to you including statistics that are relevant and important to you.

On page two important information from you about the service is reported, as well as key things you care about most from the service (e.g. the timeliness and reliability of the service).

Page three shows how the service is performing in ways that matter most to you (both short and long term).

On page four, we share with you what the service is planning on doing over the next four years.

We’re always looking to improve. Do you have suggestions on how to make the plan & budget more citizen focused? We’d love to hear from through 311 or you can contact your Councillor’s office.

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Each service plan and budget has more detail on what the services are about: a definition of the service, what the service delivers to you, and details of the specific specializations of the service.

Services have been named so you can easily know what they include. For some services, the scope is quite large and includes multiple specializations of the service that may be more relatable to the citizen. Since these specializations relate to the same overarching topic, they have been grouped together.

An example of this is “Waste & Recycling”. This service provides:

  • residential cart programs,
  • container collection (black, blue and green carts),
  • waste management and
  • community-wide programs.

These individual topics may be more familiar to you, but have been grouped together because they all relate to The City’s Waste & Recycling Service.

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Yes. We continually work to improve the value you get for your tax dollars by improving service efficiency and effectiveness. Improving effectiveness allows us to increase service levels without increasing budget. That means we do more for you at the same cost.​

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Some services have found efficiencies, meaning they can reduce their budget, while maintaining service levels. They are giving the same level of service at a lower cost to you.

The following services have reduced their base budget from 2018 to 2022:

Service Reduction ($000s) Reduction (%)
Waste & Recycling (1,906) (8.9%)
IT Solutions & Support (1,301) (2.0%)
Social Programs (741) (2.7%)
Human Resources Support (538) (2.0%)
Citizen Engagement & Insights (294) (4.8%)
Procurement & Warehousing (135) (1.6%)
Appeals & Tribunals (132) (2.9%)
Municipal Elections (90) (5.1%)
Insurance & Claims (23) (1.8%)
TOTAL REDUCTION (6,200)  
 

Other services have also seen reductions to their net budget due to changes in their one-time budget from 2018 to 2022:

Service Reduction ($000s)
Waste & Recycling (3,127)
Community Strategies (2,734)
IT Solutions & Support 600
Social Programs (21)
Financial Support (196)
Executive Leadership (166)
TOTAL (7,012)
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The following services will see increased investments in their net budget from 2018 to 2022 (based on dollar value):

Service Increase ($000s)
Public Transit 45,730
Streets 22,371
Police 19,932
Sidewalks & Pathways 14,524
Fire & Emergency Response 12,778
Parks & Open Spaces 7,593
Arts & Culture 7,129
Facility Management 7,024
Affordable Housing 5,724
Specialized Transit 5,576
All Other Services 28,028
TOTAL INVESTMENT 176,409

The following services will see increased investments in their net budget from 2018 to 2022 (based on percentage):

Top 10 Services Increase (%)
Affordable Housing 69.5%
Corporate Security 50.5%
Arts & Culture 44.5%
Sidewalks & Pathways 40.8%
Bylaw Education & Compliance 26.0%
Neighbourhood Support 23.6%
Records Management, Access & Privacy 22.3%
Citizen Information & Services 20.9%
Public Transit 20.6%
Facility Management 17.7%

The following table represents new investments to the 2019-2023+ capital budget (excluding previously approved budget):

Top 10 Services ($000s)
Streets  465,840
Wastewater Collection & Treatment  454,809
Water Treatment & Supply  351,706
Public Transit  255,546
Stormwater Management  211,493
Fleet Management  159,900
Affordable Housing  150,103
Waste & Recycling  110,603
Police Services  109,660
IT Solutions & Support  104,284


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The Key Service Highlights are items that the service provider thought was important to highlight in their full-service plan and budget that speaks to “the value the service provides to citizens”.

Some of these are performance measures that the service collects and reports, while others are satisfaction scores taken from sources like the citizen satisfaction survey. These help provide a snapshot of how the service is performing and the value the service provides to you.

What was presented is a portion of the full-service plan and budget. The full plan and budget gives some additional context and provides comparisons to other cities where relevant and where the data is available (this is shown in the section labelled “Benchmarking”).

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Approximately $40M in efficiencies have been found for the budget cycle of 2019-2022.

Administration previously committed to identifying an additional $20M over the four-year business plan and budget cycle, for a total of $60M in efficiencies.

To help offset one-time costs, Administration has further committed to identifying an additional $40M in savings which will increase the total amount to $100M.

To ensure we reach this target, Administration is refreshing its corporate strategy on efficiency and effectiveness. This strategy will support existing continuous improvement initiatives throughout The City’s operations, as well as introduce new tools and approaches to bolster them.

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The proposed One Calgary 2019-2022 Service Plans and Budgets are organized by The City’s 61 services. Service owners have considered how to make progress in their 2019-2022 budgets towards meeting The City’s long-term goals, as set out in a number of Council-approved plans and policies.

The key long-term plans that guided strategies for 2019- 2022 have been noted in the “What Council has directed” section of each plan and budget.

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​Every four years, the City of Calgary creates plans and budgets to deliver on what’s important to Calgarians. We’ve heard from you that it’s important to know more about the services we provide and how we invest your tax dollars. 

We’ve gotten feedback from you at several points during the budget process. Each City service and Council itself listened to your input, as the plans and budgets were created, finalized and approved. Our goal was to make sure we delivered what Calgarians wanted for the 2019-2022 Service Plans and Budgets.


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Investing your tax dollars


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Investing your tax dollars

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Each of The City’s 61 services is described in six pages. The first two pages explain:

  • who the customers of a given service are,
  • what the service delivers,
  • the value proposition of that service, (why is it important to you)
  • the current state value of the service,
  • benchmarks, and
  • what we’re watching in terms of risks, opportunities and trends.

We want to ensure you understand your services and how they work for you.​

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Community Strategies, Neighbourhood Supports and Social Programs have many sub-services that support the needs of all Calgarians and, in particular, Calgarians experiencing vulnerabilities.

These services aim to advance social well-being for Calgarians at the strategic, neighbourhood and individual level.

Social issues are addressed at each of these levels so all Calgarians, regardless of need, have opportunities to succeed.

By removing barriers to participation in civic life, delivering support and resources for residents to increase social inclusion, and developing protective factors such as employment training and positive relationships through social recreational opportunities, there is greater capacity for resilience for any individual or population that is experiencing vulnerabilities.

Credible levels of service are maintained by leveraging funds from other orders of government (Province, Federal) through contractual agreements and collaborative partnerships. These vary by specific program.

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For the first time, our plans and budgets are presented by our 61 services, instead of by City department and business unit. In doing this, we hope to make it clearer to Council and you of the services we provide, how much those services cost, and how tax dollars are being used to deliver value on that investment.

See the breakdown of where your property tax dollars are being spent using our Tax Breakdown Tool​

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Operating budget refers to items of revenue, recoveries and expenditures for day-to-day operations. These funds are generally used up within one year.

Capital budget refers to expenditures and financing required to build or get tangible items, for example:

  • land and land improvements,
  • engineered structures,
  • buildings,
  • machinery and equipment,
  • and vehicles.

These capital investments provide future economic benefit to The City and are more likely to have multi-year impacts with expenses and funding being spread over several years.

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Input from Calgarians was critically important to determine our focus for 2019-2022.

Over 275,000 engagements (in person, online and through 3-1-1) were considered during the development of the One Calgary four-year service plans and budgets.

Additionally, to increase transparency, proposed strategies as well as operating and capital investments are outlined for each of The City’s 61 services.

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​Inflation, increases in demand, growth of established and new communities, and higher expectations for service levels and response times put upward pressures on the costs of providing City of Calgary services to citizens.

Over the past year, The City took a hard look at whether there were more efficient ways our services could be provided over the next 4 years.  This has enabled us to find $40 million and commit to finding a further $60 million in efficiencies in the 2019-2022 budget cycle.  Some select reductions to services are also included.  While these actions have helped, not all of the increased costs can be counteracted with these strategies.

The City has worked with citizens and Council to identify the things that are most important to preserve and enhance in the coming years.  Given these priorities, further reductions to services are not being recommended.

Property tax is the main revenue source for municipalities and without an increase, The City would have to reduce services to stay within its budget.

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