As holders of public office, we have an important role in maintaining a supportive business environment, incentivise job creation and employment, and forge a path to a brighter economic future for everyone. There is a legitimate and important role for government here – but that means delivering actual results – a government that is focused on championing innovation and supporting existing small business.
Calgary today is in ‘recovery mode’ – the perfect time to reorient ourselves to ambitious task of getting further away from the uncertainty and pain – if not despair – of our cyclical economy – and focus on: bringing back local jobs in manufacturing and production, scientific and technical services and education, providing an investment-friendly climate to make everything happen. This focus needs to be paramount with a new City Council that like me for the past four years, will push administration to make a climate at City Hall that is business friendly.
By doing so we will attract more capital, and more of the best minds from around the world, so that Calgary offers a competitive jurisdiction and functions as a ‘magnet’ to new businesses and investment. Focusing on innovation will not only lower costs and improve quality – but will bring new, 21st century jobs and industries to the city – making us known as leaders in the new economy – the economy of our children’s generation.
Most importantly, the City of Calgary needs to provide an environment for businesses to flourish. As part of this approach, we need to ensure that we have a low business tax. Simply put, this means managing costs. Prior to raising taxes, City should demonstrate that it has spending under control. Raising taxes should not be a given. By better managing costs, we can deliver better core services to Calgarians and reduce the tax burden.
If re-elected, I will focus on ensuring strong fiscal management. This includes:
- A budget freeze in 2018.
- Setting aggressive but realistic targets for cost reduction through supporting a Service and Solution based approach at the City.
- Setting utility rates that reflect actual costs and contain assessment to build reserves for ongoing maintenance of infrastructure and growth.
- Focus on cost efficiency over the long term.
Over 60% of Calgarians, based on recent polls, say that the economy in Calgary is bad – and almost 90% say that the City can play a big role in weathering these tough economic times. This requires a city that supports small businesses and provides the right environment for small business to thrive. This means a city that can continue to pride itself in individual accomplishment, and provides the environment to make that possible. We need to focus on the goals and original ideas of our hard-working Calgarians who are dedicated to improvement and able to identify, champion, and implement the kinds of actions and recommendations we have been given by organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, and Calgary Economic Development (CED).
CED, in its 10-year Economic Strategy has identified:
- Increased investment;
- A bigger focus on growth industries;
- Increasing trade opportunities;
- Better position our city as western Canada’s #1 transportation and logistics hub;
- Increasing our involvement, and opportunity in the digital economy; and
- Capturing the opportunities in medical and bio-industrial development.
I am committed 100% to this vision, and the promise of opportunity that it represents for all Calgarians – today and into the future. I am also committed to continuing to work through the issues and recommendations that the Chamber of Commerce provided at the start of our current term:
- Fiscal prudence, and strictly limited spending – topping out on the basis of population growth and inflation;
- A budgeting framework that clearly and transparently identifies essential vs. discretionary spending;
- Stringent debt spending criteria and limits – this includes a commitment to ‘full-cost accounting’ for capital that incorporates ongoing operating expenses and needs;
- Continue ‘Zero-based’ budgeting reviews for every part of the City of Calgary’s operations and programs;
- Cutting red tape – in a way that requires us to eliminate at least 1 ‘old’ regulations or by-laws for every new one;
- Setting franchise fees for utilities – so that they only – clearly and transparently cover the true cost of delivery;
- Taking a hard look at property tax rates to ensure fairness – but more importantly – get away from the ‘death spiral’ of our current system – increasing the tax burden on this year’s ‘survivors’ (as we’ve seen constantly this year) – which then forces more and more of them out of business due to unsustainable costs – pushing the next group of business, tax-payers and employers over the fiscal cliff … all because we can’t get the votes on Council to cut spending, and live within our means!
Finally, we must strengthen Calgary’s position as a global commercial centre. This means strengthening partnerships with other levels of government, providing healthy supply of industrial land to support economic development and diversification, improving movement of people through new Rapid Transit Routes, working with industry to enhance movement of goods in major routes, cutting bureaucratic red tape, and improve attractiveness of Calgary’s City Centre:
- Economic Diversification & Growth
- Focus on Transportation, Real Estate and Creative Industries
- Support Partners & Business Revitalization Zones
- Cut red tape and foster a competitive tax environment to help small business
- Streamline admin services
- Work with partners and maximize fair entry to enable Calgarians to access programs
- Create a more resilient economy
- Implement Economic strategy for Calgary
- Promote a vibrant and prosperous downtown
I have always been a champion of small businesses, and have constantly pushed city administration to see small businesses and those that wish to start their own as an ally, and to remove barriers to their success. I have more ideas of how we can support businesses here, and I am always interested to hear from fellow citizens on this issue, so please reach out to me at (403) 879 – 9696.