A Better Economy

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The economic downturn caused by the decline in energy prices has been challenging for our community. We went from having the lowest unemployment rate in Canada to the highest in just 18 months. During the same period, our downtown vacancy rate went from near zero to 30 per cent. Although the economists tell us that the recession ended about 6 months ago and that the economy is generating new jobs, far too many of our neighbours still feel the pain of unemployment and underemployment.
   
   
   
Unlike previous downturns, this one represents a structural change in our economy and we must adapt. We must continue to champion the Canadian energy sector and market access while pursuing diversification in the six key sectors in our economic strategy: agribusiness, clean tech/green tech/renewables, creative industries, financial services, tourism, and transportation and logistics,  while fostering innovation and technology that builds the economy.
  
My plan to build a better economy includes the following:

Invest in Infrastructure 

This year, due to our prudent financial management, we were able to deploy $2 billion into the local economy to build infrastructure and create jobs, while freezing your taxes. We must continue to stimulate the economy by making strategic investments in infrastructure. The following are my infrastructure priorities:

  • Improve our Road Network. We have to continue building the road infrastructure required to keep our city moving. This includes interchanges and road improvements at key chokepoints in our road network, such as Airport Trail and Crowchild Trail.

  • Build the Green Line and the Bus Rapid Transit Network. The Green Line is the largest infrastructure investment in Calgary’s history. We must carefully manage the procurement and construction of this project to ensure that it’s delivered on time and on budget. We must also complete the Bus Rapid Transit projects that are underway and transform our transit system from being hub & spoke to system to where Calgarians can more easily move across their city in any direction.

  • Renew and Expand our Community Infrastructure. We need to ensure that Council renews the Community Investment Fund, which was established in 2012, to help construct, renovate and expand fire halls, libraries, parks and recreation centres needed to maintain our quality of life.

  • Invest in the Cultural and Entertainment District. We must continue our successful redevelopment of the East Village, which attracted $3 billion of private investment, by going south of the tracks to Victoria Park. This also is the perfect spot for a new arena, but we need a mayor who will fight for a fair deal for taxpayers.

Sell Calgary 

For the past seven years it has been a privilege to represent Calgary and promote our city across the country and around the world to businesses and investors. Working with Calgary Economic Development, we have attracted and supported over 90 new companies,creating 2,700 jobs,  since 2016, including Rocketspace, a leading Silicon Valley incubator.

I will continue to sell Calgary by :

  • Tackling our our downtown office vacancy problem, 30,000 square feet at a time if necessary, by recruiting companies to relocate or expand their operations in Calgary;

  • Promoting Calgary’s incredible entrepreneurs and businesses to help them gain customers in new markets; and

  • Hosting trade delegations and attending trade missions abroad to promote our city and our talented workforce.

We must also sell Calgary to Calgarians - there has been far too much “down-talk” of our city. We live in one of the best places in the world - The Economist named us the fifth best city in the world to live in. I will encourage Calgarians to be ambassadors and not detractors for our city.

Establish a Mayor's Business Advisory Council 

Understanding the needs and challenges of Calgary businesses is critical to tackling the structural issues in our economy. It is vital for the City to work collaboratively with the business community in order to build a stronger and more diverse economy. I will establish a formal advisory group, The Mayor’s Business Advisory Council, made up of business leaders from small, medium and large businesses to help the City understand, consider and act on their concerns and ideas.

Support Growth, Diversification and Innovation

Our economic strategy is focused on growing agribusiness, clean tech, creative industries, financial services, tourism, and transportation and logistics. The City’s role is to ensure our rules and processes facilitate growth in these sectors. We need to cut red tape, revamp our industrial land strategy, continue investing in infrastructure that supports economic growth and diversification, such as the new Calgary Film Centre. In addition, Council has established an Economic Development Investment Fund which will provide a source funds to help support these efforts. 

Advocate for the Energy Industry

Although we must continue to diversify our economy, the energy industry will always play a critical role in our future economic growth. I have been an outspoken, credible advocate for the need for new pipelines to get our energy to tidewater, and I have worked hard to talk to Canadians outside of Alberta about the critical role that Canadian energy plays in our national economy. I will continue to be a strong advocate for Canada’s energy industry.

As the global energy market evolves, Calgary is taking a greater leadership role in the use of technology in the energy industry, including clean-tech and renewables. We must continue to to hold our position as the center of the energy industry in Canada and fill those downtown office towers with companies that can build innovative businesses. I will continue to promote our innovative energy companies across the country and around the world to help promote investment and pursue new markets for their solutions.

Partner with our Post-Secondary institutions 

The City must pursue a deeper relationship with its postsecondary institutions to foster entrepreneurship and create the right environment to commercialize research. Our post secondary institutions need to develop the right talent to address future challenges, including implementing specialized programs to help our talented workforce adapt to a changing economy.

As well, we can use our city as a living lab for incubating new technologies and processes. The City has already partnered with the University of Calgary in groundbreaking research in wastewater treatment and experiments involving our dedicated fibre optic network.

Extend the 5% Cap on Municipal Portion of the Non-Residential Property Tax

In 2017, the spike in the commercial vacancy rate caused a sudden shift in the market value assessment of non-residential properties from the downtown core to non-downtown properties. This shift meant that certain businesses outside the downtown core were facing a dramatic increase in their non-residential tax bill.

At my request, Council approved a $45 million program to help businesses weather this shift in the market by limiting the maximum increase of the municipal portion of those taxes to 5%. I support extending this relief program for another year which will allow more time for the downtown core to recover.

By listening closely to business leaders and working with our entire community we can meet the challenges posed by unemployment and downtown office vacancy and emerge from this downturn stronger than ever. Together we can build better economy where all Calgarians have the opportunity to share in the prosperity of this place. 

Read Naheed's Full Platform

Re-elect Naheed Nenshi for Mayor - 2017