Calgary councillors pitch business tax relief plan

Competing plans all failed at a Calgary city council meeting earlier this week

City of Calgary overhead view of the skyline - Dec. 31, 2018. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

After failing to find a solution to Calgary’s non-residential property tax earlier this week, Calgary city councillors delivered a plan late Thursday that received nearly unanimous support.

While the proposal will come as an urgent notice of motion at the June 17 city council meeting, it was endorsed by 13 councillors and Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Councillor Jeromy Farkas wasn’t included in the plan.

“While many paths have been explored to resolve the problem without consensus and Council, collectively, did not have the leadership to develop one path forward, the undersigned have since worked tirelessly and collaboratively both at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference and in Calgary on an immediate course of action,” read a press release put out Thursday.

The plan calls for $190.9 million to be delivered for relief to non-residential taxpayers to be applied to their accounts on “a basis proportional to their increases.”

The full plan calls for $70.9 million to immediately be applied, a further $60 million in city administration savings to be found, and a formal request to the province to cover another $60 million.

“We can assure Calgary’s business community that we have heard you loud and clear, and have been working diligently to find a solution. With the help of our partners at the province, we will be able to provide immediate, substantial tax relief, particularly for those who need it the most,” read a joint statement in the release.

“We are unified on this step forward to reduce City operating costs and keep businesses open and Calgarians working. This only works with the help of property owners who need to ensure this relief is passed on to their tenants.”

The province has already responded, essentially rejecting the city’s proposal, instructing them to identify ways to rein in spending.

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