Frequently Asked Questions
FACT: This is incorrect. The following is an excerpt from Metro Calgary:
When Smith’s campaign was contacted to explain how he arrived at his numbers, they provided a link to the city’s tax levy – the total amount of tax money the city brought in each year.
That number has increased by 53.8 per cent since 2011 when it comes to residential taxes, and 74.9 per cent on non-residential.
University of Calgary Economist Trevor Tombe said saying that number equates to a tax increase is wrong. Instead it shows the growing city’s growing tax base.
“Much of that growth will come from a growing city population and from inflation,” said Tombe.
Calgary added about 150,000 new citizens since 2011, according to the city census data. It also had 74,126 housing starts to the end of 2016, each contributing more tax dollars to city coffers. [emphasis added]
FACT: The municipal property tax rate on residential properties increased 23.7% from 2011 to 2016, for an average increase of 3.4% per year. The combined provincial and municipal property taxes paid by homeowners increased by 14.7% from 2011 to 2016. Neither of these numbers are 51%. Source: City of Calgary
FACT: Calgary has the lowest residential property taxes of any major Canadian city.
The following table shows the municipal property taxes on an average two-storey house in Canadian cities.
Source: City of Calgary
Note: Comparable information for Toronto and Vancouver was not available for this study. We estimate that taxes for a similar property would exceed $5,000
FACT: The City added 144,235 people from 2011 to 2016. This meant more citizens were paying taxes and that more homes and businesses were built and added to the City’s tax base. The total taxes collected by the City increased 32% from 2011 to 2016 in order to serve a growing population.
The municipal non-residential property tax rate on businesses increased 20.6% from 2011 to 2016. Increases since 2014 have been aligned with the business tax consolidation and the tax rate set by council.
Source: The City of Calgary
FACT: The Business tax is being consolidated into the non-residential property tax.
Calgary businesses pay two forms of tax:
- Non-residential property taxes paid by property owners
- A business tax paid by all businesses in Calgary, based on the assessed value of a business, not the assessed value of a property.
After listening to the business community, including the Chamber of Commerce, The City of Calgary agreed to eliminate the business tax over five years in a revenue neutral manner. Beginning in 2014, the City began consolidating the business tax into non-residential property taxes. The full elimination of the business tax will occur in 2019.
FACT: The Mayor Nenshi and City Council froze the property tax rate for residences and businesses in the 2017 City budget. However, the assessed value of many properties - based entirely on fair market value - has shifted due to the sudden drop in the valuation of downtown commercial properties.
Mayor Nenshi and Council spearheaded two initiatives this year to help businesses address the shift in the value of the commercial real estate market:
- A $45 million fund was approved to cap the change in taxes based on market assessments from exceeding 5%. Source: The City of Calgary
- Initiating an independent review of the appeals process for non-residential assessments to look at the fairness, transparency and predictability of the assessment system for commercial properties propose some recommended reforms.
FACT: The City’s operational spending growth has been less than population growth plus municipal inflation. Inflation plus population growth totalled 29.8% from 2011 to 2016, while municipal operating spending increased only 26.9%.
Calgary’s population increased from 1,090,936 in 2011 to 1,235,171 in 2016: a 13.2% increase. This means we had an additional 144,000 people to serve.
Inflation as measured by the Municipal Price Index (MPI), the most accurate gauge of inflation at the municipal level, increased by 16.6% from 2011 - 2016 according to the City’s Corporate Economics business unit. MPI is different than the Consumer Price Index - which is how inflation is calculated for households - because municipalities have different expenses to account for. Things like wages and benefits, materials for construction projects, and maintenance of equipment.
Taken together, population growth plus municipal inflation totals 29.8%.
Looking at The City’s annual reports:
- The City’s operating budget increased from $2.91 Billion in 2011 to $3.69 Billion in 2016, a 26.9% increase.
- Operational spending growth has been less than population growth plus inflation.
FACT: Mayor Nenshi established the Cut Red Tape program which made 45 separate process improvements and generated more than $14,675,000 in savings.
FACT: Mayor Nenshi received two honourable mentions for cutting red tape from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business Golden Scissors Awards. First in 2012 and again in 2015.
FACT: Mayor Nenshi and Council implemented the Zero Based Review (ZBR) program to evaluate and review every City business unit to improve processes and create cost efficiencies. Over the last five years, the ZBR program has improved City services and generated more than $50 million in recurring, annual savings.
Over the next four years the City will continue the ZBR program and expand it to the “back of the house” to City functions like Law, Information Technology, and Human Resources to generate additional savings and reduce operating costs.
FACT: The City has found $325 million in savings and efficiencies in the City’s operating budget since the economic downturn began in 2015. An additional $94 million has been saved on capital projects over the same timeframe.
Uber began operating illegally in Calgary without insurance, background checks for drivers and vehicle inspections. The City took legal action to halt Uber’s operations in Calgary to protect the public. The City and Uber reached an agreement which required Uber to having insurance, background checks for Uber driver and vehicle inspections. The City also required Uber pay licensing fees to cover its costs for regulating Uber.
Uber has operated successfully in Calgary ever since these basic requirements were put in place to protect public safety.
The Midfield Mobile Home Park is located at 954-16 Ave N.E.and is owned by The City of Calgary. The site was originally developed as a mobile home park in 1968 by Richfield Development, a private developer on city leased land. In 1973 the private developer turned over management of the site to The City of Calgary. In mobile home parks, private citizens rent a mobile home pad but own their mobile homes.
The Midfield Mobile Home Park is closing because of its aging and failing water and sewer lines. In 1968 when Richfield Development built the mobile home park, they built the water and sewer lines directly underneath the mobile home pads (unlike most city water and sewer lines which are built under roadways or open right-of-ways for ease of access and repair). This is a design error that prevents proper lifecycle repair and replacement of the site’s water and sewer lines and makes the community unsustainable. Full life cycle maintenance and replacement is impossible given that existing mobile homes, garages, carports and other improvements are overtop of the main water and sewer lines. To repair the infrastructure the City would have to destroy the community in the process. With sanitary infrastructure at the failing point, Midfield is being closed in order to disconnect and remove the existing water and sanitary sewer network and to end the risk of a possible sanitary line rupture affecting Nose Creek.
The first discussions with residents about the future of Midfield began as far back as 2006.
On May 27, 2014, Midfield tenants were informed that Council had made the difficult decision to close Midfield Mobile Home Park effective September 30, 2017, and that they had also decided to not proceed with the construction of East Hills Estates mobile home park on the edge of Calgary. Residents were given three years notice of closure and assistance in relocation.
Tenants were be eligible to access the following:
- The mobile home removal fund (up to a maximum of $10,000)
- The tenant closure payment of $10,000
- Legal fee reimbursement (up to $500)
The Midfield Closure Program also provides all Midfield residents access to social service support. City staff was available for one-on-one tenant conversations, plus a Calgary Housing Company (CHC) Leasing Agent was available to provide information about CHC affordable housing options to Midfield Park residents who may require housing assistance. As a result, the vast majority of tenants have already relocated from the Midfield Mobile Home Park.
The decision to close of Midfield was not easy, but there was NO viable long-term infrastructure solution that could keep residents in place and do the water and sewer maintenance required for health and safety of the community. . Mayor Nenshi would have preferred for Council to offer a more generous package to tenants, and voted against this particular package. However, supports the difficult decision Council made.