Building A Calgary that Works with our new City Council
October 23, 2017
Why A Calgary that Works?
Things have changed since the Calgary election that took place in 2013. Back then, our great city was booming. The unemployment rate 4.6%, the price of oil was hovering around $100/barrel, and the biggest issue facing the business community was trying to find enough talented labour to fill job openings. Between October 2010 and October 2013, Calgary added 93,000 jobs.
Things were much different heading into this October’s election. The recession that began with the crashing price of oil led to numerous business closures, thousands of layoffs, and roughly $4.6 billion in lost Calgary economic output. Heading into this year’s election, over 75,000 Calgarians were looking for work, and the biggest issue facing business was the biggest issue facing our entire city – putting Calgarians back to work.
In September, the Calgary Chamber launched a solutions-focused platform of ideas to get Calgary working again. Titled A Calgary that Works, the platform was developed with wide ranging contributors, including small business owners, top executives, and leaders in academia, community and arts. With the sole purpose of creating an environment that allows businesses to grow and create jobs, our platform was based on three pillars: building an Efficient, an Equitable, and an Entrepreneurial city. Each pillar contained one practical recommendation and we look forward to working with the City to achieve these. The recommendations include:
- Efficient – The Chamber recommends that City Council contain annual spending increases within a “Smart Spending Bandwidth” – the combined rates of inflation plus population growth. This will ensure necessary services continue to be provided, while guarding against inefficient program delivery, and climbing property tax bills.
- Equitable – The Chamber recommends the business and residential tax rates be locked to a fixed ratio, with a goal of achieving a 2.85:1 ratio during the next City Council term, and a 2:1 within 10 years.
- Entrepreneurial – The Chamber recommends City Council put in place a face track process when outdated, or a lack of, regulations are preventing a business from operating. A task force of innovative business leaders should be created to recommend to the City how they can better encourage and embrace new and disruptive business models.
Along with our platform, we also launched a website where candidates could fill out our survey questions, add a biography, and commit to implementing our recommendations if elected. Throughout the election campaign, our ideas were covered in over 50 news stories, we had over 10,000 visits to our elections website, 54 candidates filled out our survey (63% of candidates), and 33 endorsed our recommendations.
The final element of our advocacy efforts was a Mayoral Town Hall that we hosted on October 2, 2017. The Town Hall featured Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Bill Smith, and Andre Chabot. All candidates were asked tough questions directly from Calgary business owners. The Mayoral Town Hall was a great medium to bring attention to Calgary’s business issues. In fact, our campaign hashtag #YYCWorks trended nationally.
On October 16, Calgarians headed in droves to the polls to elect their Mayor and City Council. The Calgary Chamber would like to congratulate Mayor Naheed Nenshi on his reelection, as well as the ten returning, and four new members of City Council. Going forward, we will be meeting with each member of council to begin implementing solutions to the issues that are impacting our city, and business community.
Calgary businesses are pleased that so many elected officials support our policy ideas and are committed to building A Calgary that Works.