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Ward 1 - Sonya Sharp

Update on the 2023-2026 Service Plans and Budget

And a reminder to donate to the Mayor's annual Christmas Food Drive!

Hi Ward 1, 

Budget deliberations have wrapped and Council has approved The City’s operating and capital budgets for the next four years. I spent the week working hard to find ways to reduce your taxes and ensure that you get the best value for your money. 

I want to thank everyone who submitted feedback on this year’s budget, whether by taking my survey, calling and writing into the office, or coming to present at Council. I heard that many Ward 1 constituents are seriously concerned about affordability and the effect that higher property taxes could have. I also heard that many constituents want to ensure we have enough resources in key areas like public safety, mental health and social supports, and affordable housing. I did my best to deliver on your priorities.

At the conclusion of deliberations, I did not support the final budget approved by Council

This is a challenging budget at a challenging time for Calgarians. Two-thirds of us are struggling to keep up with the cost of living right now. The City will need to collect between 4% and 6% more every year over the next four years in property tax revenues from households and businesses. It means that this year, a typical single-family household can expect to pay about 5.2% more in property taxes (the exact amount is still to be finalized). For some people, that might not seem like a big increase for one year, but compounded over four years, it means Calgarians end up paying a lot more in taxes. 

I think there are several good things in this budget, and I worked hard to ensure it was as good as it could be. But ultimately, I could not support these increases knowing how Calgarians are struggling with the cost of living, and how many small businesses are still struggling to get back on their feet. If we’re asking Calgarians to make the kinds of sacrifices that a tax increase like this will require, we need to show much better value for tax dollars than this budget was able to deliver. 

I’m still proud of the work that City Administration and my Council colleagues did in delivering this budget. There are many different perspectives on Council, but we worked together to ensure the voices of as many Calgarians as possible were heard. 

We’ll be making some additional decisions early next year that could still affect how much you pay in taxes, and we will revisit the budget each November for the next four years to look at changes. I’ll continue to work hard to make The City’s budget reflect the realities you are facing. 

—Sonya Sharp

Reminder: Support the Mayor's Food Drive!

This year, all 14 City Councillors are holding a friendly competition to see which wards can collect the most in food and cash donations to support the Calgary Food Bank. The Food Bank provides an essential service to those struggling to keep food on the table, and their work is especially important during the holidays. If you have the means, let’s show Calgary that Ward 1 gives back!

Donations for the Food Drive will be accepted December 1-11

  • Donate non-perishable food items in-person at CF Market Mall in the corridor just outside Safeway, near the Christmas tree anytime during mall hours. 

  • Starting December 1st, donate online to have your donation counted towards the Ward 1 total! 

Important budget decisions still to come

While Council decided on City spending for the next four years, there are still some important decisions coming up that could affect how much you pay in property taxes next year. 

  • Council successfully passed Councillor Sharp’s motion to explore ways to responsibly use City reserves to lower your property taxes for the coming year. There may be opportunities to move certain expenditures to future years where property taxes are already lower. Administration will report back on this at the end of February.

  • Another motion from Councillor Sharp will have the The City advocate to the federal and provincial governments for more financial support for The City’s operating budget, including retaining a larger portion of the property taxes that The City is currently required to send to the province. This could reduce the amount of taxes that The City of Calgary needs to collect overall.

  • Council agreed with Councillor Sharp’s proposal to defer a decision on the distribution of taxes between non-residential and residential properties until early next year. This will allow time for a more robust debate on this important question.


Highlights from the budget

The City of Calgary’s website offers detailed information on what’s included in the budget over the next four years. Every year in November, Council also considers mid-cycle adjustments to ensure that the budget still reflects the right priorities for the coming year. 

Highlights over the next four years

  • $200 million for civic partners including the Calgary Zoo, Hangar Flight Museum, Silvera for Seniors, and Vecova
  • $110 million for downtown revitalization projects, including Stephen Avenue
  • $153 million for affordable housing
  • $34.2 million in additional operating funding for the Calgary Fire Department
  • $34.8 million for the Calgary Police Service

In addition to the overall budget proposed by Administration, a number of amendments from various City Councillors proposed some additional investment and advocacy over the next year.

Council will invest last year’s operating surplus into some of Calgarians key priorities. Using these surplus funds to offset the coming years taxes was also considered: unfortunately, this produces a “bow wave effect”—a sharp increase in taxes the following year, making it even harder to budget. The surplus offers a chance to invest in some top priorities, offering you better value for your money.

Highlights from amendments

  • $3 million in funding to keep Transit fees at the same level in 2023 
  • $3 million to eliminate transit fares for kids under 12 in 2023
  • Funding for organizations working to reduce poverty like Vibrant Communities Calgary
  • Funding for tourism and economic development initiatives to bring more investment to our city
  • $10 million for the Calgary Fire Department

Another motion from Councillor Sharp will add additional investment in downtown office-to residential conversions ($31 million from City reserves), and explore the potential for office-to-post secondary institution conversions ($9 million from City reserve) for the first time. The City will also explore another $20 million in funding from other levels of government. 

What happens downtown directly affects all Calgarians. Residential conversions are already the most successful economic stimulus program The City has ever undertaken, raising property values and generating more tax revenue, plus more vibrancy and support for businesses. This is great news for Calgary. 

If you have any questions about the approved budget, please reach out to the Ward 1 office. We’ll also keep you updated on important changes from this budget every month in this newsletter.

Categories: Budget, Newsletter