Share this page Print

Promoting economic recovery for Calgarians

Edit text hero image item

Holding government accountable to our citizensPromoting economic recovery for Calgarians

Calgarians are working hard to recover from the downturn and are building toward a strong tomorrow. We’re looking to the Province to support new tools and investments to help create that future. ​YYC Matters - promoting economic recovery guide​.

Share:

538

Promoting economic recovery for Calgarians

Four

<div class="ExternalClassEB0289C1757F4E57A9E90582B5D97CE9">Strong Calgary, strong Alberta </div>

Image

http://www.calgary.ca/citycouncil/YYCmatters/PublishingImages/Supporting%20Business.jpg, https://spprd-authoring.calgary.ca:47443/citycouncil/YYCmatters/PublishingImages/Supporting%20Business.jpg

landscape

Button

Learn more

http://www.calgary.ca/citycouncil/YYCmatters/Pages/pillar2.aspx#SupportAndGrowBusiness, https://spprd-authoring.calgary.ca:47443/citycouncil/YYCmatters/Pages/pillar2.aspx#SupportAndGrowBusiness

True

1

True

http://www.calgary.ca/citycouncil/YYCmatters/PublishingImages/Supporting%20Business.jpg

Edit flexbox card

Support & grow business

Strong Calgary, strong Alberta
Edit flexbox card

Made-in-YYC tourism strategy

More visitors, more funds
Edit flexbox card

Cannabis revenue sharing

Share costs, share profits

Edit content block item

Tools to support and grow business

Strong Calgary, strong Alberta

Our unemployment is one of the highest in Canada. The Province can support Calgary’s local efforts to build a new and changed economy by: 

  • Investing in critical infrastructure—creating construction jobs 
  • Providing film and television tax incentives—boosting the industry 
  • Giving one-time funding to cap property tax increases—supporting local business 
  • Investing in our Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund​—growing new businesses

 

Question : Solutions for Calgary’s downtown

A quarter of Calgary’s downtown offices are currently vacant. The City of Calgary established the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) and set aside $100 million for catalytic investments designed to create jobs, fill downtown office spaces and build economic resiliency. Does your party support contributing provincial matching funds to OCIF to support Calgary’s economic recovery?

The City allocated $86 million in 2017 and 2018 capping businesses’ tax increases at 5% from the changes resulting from the massive erosion of value of Calgary’s downtown office towers. The cost of a similar program for 2019 is estimated to be $90 million. Provincial law establishes this market assessment system and 40% of property tax revenue is remitted to the province to fund education. Does your party support matching funds to continue to cap tax increases for businesses resulting from the shift in the market assessed value of Calgary’s downtown office towers? What other solutions do you propose to protect small and large businesses in Calgary from this tax shift?

Does your party support further policy and legislative reforms to the provincial law that establishes the annual market value assessment system to ensure greater fairness, consistency and transparency for businesses and citizens? What is your overall plan to help downtown Calgary recover?

2015

pillar2-ques1

Edit accordion

The Alberta government and its agencies have already been handing out billions of dollars in grants, loan guarantees and royalty tax credits in the lead up to the 2019 provincial election, with some beneficiaries being Calgary-based companies or companies looking to move into the Calgary market. While the NDP has defended such action in the name of encouraging economic development or diversification, others say such targeted handouts distort the market or pick “winners and losers,” with what often ends up being massive taxpayer expense per job created. At the very least, the Alberta Liberals believe that any proposed investments should first be subject to review for their risks and benefits by credible, independent professionals, and not simply made for political expediency. It may very well be that a particular targeted investment is justifiable, but this should be determined through a careful and thoughtful review and approached very cautiously.

The Alberta Liberals would certainly be willing to discuss this, and any other proposals that the City of Calgary might want to bring forward. However, we also recognize that the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) was created by Calgary city council and, at present, is exclusively a locally funded and driven economic development policy initiative. A fair question is whether providing matching funds for OCIF would warrant provincial representation on the board responsible for handing out OCIF grants.   

Question: Does your party support matching funds to continue to cap tax increases for businesses resulting from the shift in the market assessed value of Calgary’s downtown office towers? What other solutions do you propose to protect small and large businesses in Calgary from this tax shift?

The Alberta Liberals recognize the enormity of the challenge posed by the plummeting value of downtown Calgary office space and believe that the time has come for the province to seriously consider reducing or even eliminating the education portion of the property tax. We would create a tax commission that would be tasked with reviewing and recommending changes to the province’s overall tax structure, including the education property tax, with modernization and optimization being the goal.

In terms of your question about providing matching funds, we would be amenable to discussing this. However, it would be irresponsible and disingenuous of us to arbitrarily commit to that without having all the relevant information.   

Question: Does your party support further policy and legislative reforms to the provincial law that establishes the annual market value assessment system to ensure greater fairness, consistency and transparency for businesses and citizens?

Yes. The Alberta Liberals recognize the challenges and shortcomings of the provincially mandated market value assessment system, and support a review aimed at modernization and optimization. 

Question: What is your overall plan to help downtown Calgary recover?

To start, most who are prepared to look at Calgary’s economic situation objectively recognize that there are larger forces at play, and that no single or even set of government measures can be expected to turn things around immediately. If a silver bullet existed, we would have no doubt seen it used.

That said, there is broad consensus among all parties that building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Keystone XL and other pipelines is critical to Calgary and Alberta’s economic recovery. We will continue to aggressively promote the urgent need for pipelines.

The Alberta Liberals believe that government’s first responsibility to downtown Calgary is to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to help unemployed workers and to offer workers assistance with retraining or updating their skills. That is our primary focus. We recognize that the downturn forced many companies to find much greater efficiencies in both staff and operations, so some lost jobs are not coming back – or certainly not to the extent that previously existed. The recovery is different this time.

The Alberta Liberals believe that government has a critical role to play in creating a favourable business climate, reducing business costs and unnecessary red tape wherever possible, and optimizing the province’s tax structure. Encouraging diversification beyond oil and gas is also critically important, given that the province simply can’t rely as much on the energy sector for job creation and royalty revenues.

We do not believe that it is government’s responsibility to try to be the primary driver of economic growth. This is what we are now seeing with the NDP. Despite our province’s reputation as a free enterprise stronghold, many would be surprised to learn that Alberta actually spends the most on business subsidies of all Canadian provinces – and that was even true under former Conservative governments. That said, two energy-related areas where we do believe government has a role to play is in encouraging the development of partial upgrading technologies and petrochemical opportunities.

Despite the promises of economic diversification and job creation, government subsidies to business are not without risk to taxpayers. In some cases, the level of risk is simply too high, and we believe that any proposals to put taxpayer money on the line should first be subject to review by credible, independent professionals. If the Sturgeon refinery boondoggle has taught us anything, it’s that government involvement in the economy must offer clear, demonstrable benefits and not simply be made for political expediency. We also believe that it’s not enough for government to offer business subsidies on the vague promise to create jobs. When it comes to supporting specific projects or companies, the government should have to explain them in terms of taxpayer expenditure per job created. When that’s done, some investments look far less attractive.

Edit accordion

We recognize the challenge facing downtown Calgary during this, one of the biggest downturns in history, including the many challenges created by the high vacancy rate in downtown Calgary. This creates a challenge not only for the city, but for downtown property owners, for residents and for industry. Addressing this very real challenge will take both long-term solutions and short-term action.

In the long-term we believe diversifying Alberta’s economy is the best way to address the current economic challenges facing the City of Calgary. That’s why if re-elected we are committed to incentives for petrochemical and upgrading projects – a move that would unlock $75 billion in global value-added petroleum investment and create 70,000 jobs by 2030. This would mean thousands of new engineering, project management and head office jobs in downtown Calgary in the coming years. This builds on our ongoing investments in Alberta’s high tech industries, including a $100 million investment in artificial intelligence and a commitment to create 3,000 new high tech related post secondary spaces. Working together and making investments such as these will help make Alberta a world leader in high tech, drawing hundreds of high skilled jobs to the Calgary downtown core and across Alberta.

In the short term, we are committed to working with the City of Calgary to find solutions. Although we cannot at this point promise matching funds, we are open to examining innovative approaches such as how the market value assessment system can be made fairer and more consistent.

Edit accordion

​Calgary was hit hard by the downturn, and still hasn’t recovered. The signs are everywhere; downtown office vacancy is nearly 30%, house prices are dropping and personal bankruptcies are up. The downturn was bad all over Alberta, but Calgary was hit harder and earlier than most.

Although there has been some recovery, far too many Calgarians aren’t feeling it. Unemployment is still far too high (Calgary’s unemployment rate is the highest for any major city in Canada) and many people who are working haven’t seen a raise in years (some of those have even taken a pay cut). The impact of the downturn has been felt by small business as well; many small and medium businesses have seen significant tax increases to offset plummeting property values in the downtown core. This has pushed many businesses over the edge and left the city looking for a long-term solution.

The Alberta Party is interested in working with the City of Calgary and post-secondary institutions to develop a path forward to increase occupancy within Calgary’s downtown core as one potential method of addressing Alberta’s post-secondary seat gap.

The Alberta Party-led government would increase the provincial funding commitment for the Rivers District. This includes honouring the funding commitment for the BMO Centre expansion.

Edit accordion

In response to our survey the Green Party submitted the following statement, presented here in full.

The Green Party of Alberta has generally not adopted policy to the level of fine detail that your survey requests. In general, the Green Party supports law and public finance reform that would better recognize the key role that city governments play in meeting the needs of Albertans.

Some specifics: The Party is supportive of developing and expanding public transit systems wherever feasible in the province. Provincial funding would come from the retained portion of the carbon tax.

The Green Party supports the development of a long-term capital plan for additions to, and maintenance of, that portion of the social housing stock that is owned by the province and municipalities.

Edit accordion

A United Conservative government will aggressively boost Calgary’s economic recovery by cutting business taxes and red tape each by one-third. This bold strategy will not only give us an advantage over every province but over most U.S. states as well. Experts estimate the tax cut alone will generate 55,000 jobs in Alberta, and eliminating the carbon tax will add another 6,000. This strategy, combined with our low lease rates and relatively modest house prices in Calgary, will command the attention of job-creators in every sector.

Question: Does your party support matching funds to continue to cap tax increases for businesses resulting from the shift in the market assessed value of Calgary’s downtown office towers? What other solutions do you propose to protect small and large businesses in Calgary from this tax shift?

Does your party support further policy and legislative reforms to the provincial law that establishes the annual market value assessment system to ensure greater fairness, consistency and transparency for businesses and citizens?

We are certainly open to revisiting these elements, but it is also important to recognize that the ratio of residential to business taxes and the spending increases over the last decade are the result of decisions made at City Hall. We are focused on reversing the decisions made provincially that have made this downturn so much worse and are obstacles to recovery. Our plan to get investment back to Alberta and get Albertans working will do much more for the City’s fiscal picture than temporary stop-gap measures.

Question: What is your overall plan to help downtown Calgary recover?

As part of our job creation strategy, Bill 2 of a United Conservative government would be the Open for Business Act, to reverse the layers and layers of new costs the NDP have imposed on employers.

A United Conservative government would introduce the Job Creation Tax Cut, which would reduce the tax burden on job creators by one third from 12 per cent to eight per cent, would keep the small business tax rate at two per cent, and would not impose a provincial sales tax on Albertans.

A United Conservative government would amend the MGA to allow municipalities to offer property tax incentives to attract investment and development. We believe that municipalities should be empowered to make decisions that are in their best interests, and to compete for investment.

A United Conservative government would similarly work with municipalities to facilitate pre-approved industrial zones to streamline regulatory approvals and decision-making.

Back to the top

Edit content block item

Made-in-Calgary tourism strategy​

More visitors, more funds

​Some lodging businesses collect a fee that funds tourism marketing. Short-term rental operators don’t collect this fee. Equitable lodging fees would: 

  • Be fair and transparent to all lodging providers
  • Support the creation of a made-in-Calgary tourism strategy

​​​​​​​

Question : Support for the tourism sector

Presently, a destination marketing fee (DMF) is collected by some hotels (but not by others or by short term rental companies) in order to support tourism and convention m​arketing. Does your party support making the DMF mandatory under the City Charter framework, in order to ensure fairness and to enable The City of Calgary to help grow Calgary’s tourism industry?

2020

pillar2-ques2

Edit accordion

The Alberta Liberals believe that the City Charter framework should allow Calgary and Edmonton to decide for themselves if they want to make destination marketing fees mandatory or perhaps impose a local tourism levy. We would ensure that any revenue generated would be left to the discretion of each city council to allocate as they see fit.

Edit accordion

Developing tourism opportunities is an important part of Rachel Notley's plan to build a diversified economy with good jobs throughout the province -from working with local communities to invest in important assets, to protecting sensitive lands to benefit visitors and locals alike. We understand that vibrant communities help make Alberta a more attractive place to live, work and raise a family. That's why we were so excited to work with the City of Calgary to secure exclusive rights to host the X Games, which would inject about $75 million into Alberta's economy and support the equivalent of 540 jobs. This builds on exciting new assets such as the new downtown library and the exciting news that the province will be facilitating the expansion of the BMO Centre – an expansion that will double the size of the BMO Centre, making it the second largest convention centre in Canada and a tier-one trade show facility.

With regards to your specific question, we did make a number of changes during the City Charters Framework discussions -including expanding the use of off-site levies in new developments, supporting the development of inclusionary housing programs and the ability of municipalities to manage their own debt limits -which give the province's largest cities new tools to better fit their needs. We understand that this work continues and we will continue to work with the City of Calgary and all stakeholders on outstanding issues like Destination Marketing Fees.

Edit accordion

Alberta’s tourism, sport and cultural industries are key to our economy. But tourism receipts have stagnated around $8.0 billion for several years and attendance at arts events and heritage sites has declined.

A more concerted marketing strategy can help attract more visitors. By leveraging major events and Alberta’s parks, landscapes and new experiences we can diversify the tourism product. Attracting global visitors from our global markets and growing interest from Alberta customers are key to expanding the tourism sector.

An Alberta Party government:

  • Recognizes the linkages between support for the Alberta-based film industry and increased international tourism to Alberta. To that end the Alberta Party has already announced a program to make Alberta the most attractive jurisdiction in which to do business.
  • Expand tourism, cultural industries and leverage major events as a vital tool for economic growth.
  • Prioritize tourism through increased marketing and product development.
  • Ensure that the tourism levy is used to grow tourism markets.
  • Upgrade Parks infrastructure to encourage Albertans and tourists to visit more Alberta parks and recreation areas while balancing environmental considerations.
  • Support developing a modernized DMF program to recognize the evolution of the lodging industry and its important role as an economic driver within communities.

 

Edit accordion

In response to our survey the Green Party submitted the following statement, presented here in full.

The Green Party of Alberta has generally not adopted policy to the level of fine detail that your survey requests. In general, the Green Party supports law and public finance reform that would better recognize the key role that city governments play in meeting the needs of Albertans.

Some specifics: The Party is supportive of developing and expanding public transit systems wherever feasible in the province. Provincial funding would come from the retained portion of the carbon tax.

The Green Party supports the development of a long-term capital plan for additions to, and maintenance of, that portion of the social housing stock that is owned by the province and municipalities.

Edit accordion

A strong tourism sector will create jobs and growth in Alberta. Job creation in Alberta’s tourism sector will come from a stable and predictable funding formula for Travel Alberta that links its funding and performance to tourism industry outcomes as a whole.

A United Conservative government will work with tourism stakeholders to develop a new 10-year tourism strategy, recognizing the role that a private sector can play in assisting government in promoting Alberta as a tourist destination. A United Conservative government would remove intrusive laws, rules and regulations, which impede the development of Alberta’s tourism sector.

Edit content block item

​Cannabis revenue sharing

Share costs, share profits

​The Province receives most revenues from cannabis—but The City bears most enforcement costs.

  • Between April 2018 and December 2019, City administration and enforcement costs were $10.44 M—but Province only covers $3.84 M
  • This leaves a $6.6M revenue gap for Calgarians to pay 
  • This gap could be closed if The Province shared more of the federal funds promised to cover these costs
  • This would free up your municipal tax dollars for other city-based initiatives

​​​​​​​

Question : Maintaining the orderly legalization of cannabis

Maintaining orderly legalization of cannabis requires that the City of Calgary receive its fair share of the federal excise tax that the Government of Canada promised to municipalities in order to cover the actual costs incurred. The province’s cannabis funding over the next two years will not even cover half of the City of Calgary’s expected costs, leaving Calgarians’ property taxes to make up the difference. Does your party support a new provincial cannabis revenue sharing arrangement to ensure that the City of Calgary’s actual costs are covered?

2024

pillar2-ques3

Edit accordion

Yes. The decision to legalize cannabis was ultimately made by the federal government, but it’s the provinces and municipalities that are largely responsible for setting rules and enforcement – and that means added costs. The Alberta Liberals believe very strongly that neither the federal or provincial governments should download responsibilities to municipalities unless there is provision for resources required to fulfill the responsibilities.

Edit accordion

There is no doubt that all levels of government have faced challenges as a consequence of the federal government's decision to legalize cannabis. Municipalities in particular deserve a great deal of credit for their work -on the front lines -in dealing with legalization. We understand that like the province, the City of Calgary has costs associated with legalization, and also like the province, legalization will lead to a loss of money. Nonetheless we are happy to have supported municipalities with our 2-year $11.2 million Municipal Cannabis Transition Program -one of the most generous in Canada. After we have a couple years of experience with legalization and its medium term impacts, we will revisit the grant and the issue of revenue sharing once we have a better sense of the financial and other impacts of this new reality.

Edit accordion

Prior to legalization in 2018 the Alberta Party communicated to AUMA and RMA its proposal to establish a new revenue sharing model for cannabis revenues.

Recognizing that the burdens of legalization a predominantly carried by the municipalities, an Alberta Party-led government would introduce a new 50/50 sharing model to address social support and enforcement activities by municipalities.

Edit accordion

In response to our survey the Green Party submitted the following statement, presented here in full.

The Green Party of Alberta has generally not adopted policy to the level of fine detail that your survey requests. In general, the Green Party supports law and public finance reform that would better recognize the key role that city governments play in meeting the needs of Albertans.

Some specifics: The Party is supportive of developing and expanding public transit systems wherever feasible in the province. Provincial funding would come from the retained portion of the carbon tax.

The Green Party supports the development of a long-term capital plan for additions to, and maintenance of, that portion of the social housing stock that is owned by the province and municipalities.

Edit accordion

A United Conservative government understands cannabis legalization brings some new costs as well as revenues, but it is early in the process so there are a number of moving targets. Once we have determined genuine costs and revenues, we will certainly seek an agreement that ensures they are appropriately shared with local governments, particularly concerning law enforcement.

Back to the top


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​