The Calgary Chamber of Commerce has put forth 120 recommendations in 21 areas as they carve out their priorities for the upcoming Alberta provincial election.
Election campaigns are ramping up across the province, with a legislated Alberta provincial election set for May 29.
The platform, called Accelerate: Driving Alberta Forward, was delivered Tuesday morning by the Chamber. It calls for a business-led, solutions-oriented plan for the economy.
“Alberta remains a place of opportunity for businesses and the people behind them. Our unwavering entrepreneurial spirit, dynamic and diverse communities, and economic strength have prepared Alberta to weather future economic pressures,” said Deborah Yedlin, President and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
“Now, government has a critical opportunity, particularly with a historic surplus, to accelerate economic opportunities across the province and across sectors. The time to get this right for Alberta is now.”
Five recommendations emerged to the top of the list of Chamber priorities. The first of five pillars is the desire for fiscal responsibility. That’s followed by dealing with affordability and rising costs. The Chamber is advocating for measures to alleviate the pressure of increased costs on businesses and families.
They want to continue investment in traditional sectors, while driving investment and growth in emerging areas. Along with that, they’d like the province to ensure there’s support to build a quality talent pool through education and training, immigration and affordable childcare.
The fifth and final pillar includes strategic infrastructure investments.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she was happy to see such strong support from the Chamber of Commerce.
“I think it’s really important to have a good advocate from the business community supporting what the city is trying to accomplish,” Mayor Gondek said.
“The fact that the Chamber has been so vocal about supporting our initiatives is really positive to see.”
The 48-page Chamber of Commerce document covers a wide range of recommendations that dive into both provincial policy and local endeavours. FULL DOCUMENT BELOW.
Among the specific items for Calgary is a push for municipal financial reform.
“… the breadth of municipalities’ responsibilities is disproportionate to the revenue opportunities available to them,” the Chamber document reads.
In terms of economy and infrastructure, the Chamber is recommending investment in a rail line that connects the airport with downtown Calgary “and beyond.” It’s something Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has mentioned she’s interested in as well.
The Chamber would also like to see investment in Calgary’s Culture and Entertainment District and the Event Centre. Even more specifically, they’d like to see $55 million to upgrade the Olympic Oval and the sliding track at WinSport.
For economic investment, they seek tax incentives for Calgary companies that work with local start-ups to pilot technology that’s been developed here.
There’s also a request to add $20 million to Calgary’s downtown office to post-secondary conversions.
Finally, there’s specific mention – twice – of an investment in Calgary’s downtown west-end redevelopment strategy. They’re suggesting $40 million to support post-secondary, mixed-use housing and affordable startup spaces.
Recently, there was renewed speculation about Calgary’s downtown Event Centre landing in the West Village (part of the overall West side redevelopment plan). The province had also asked about the required remediation in the area.
Lastly, the document suggests $200 million in support for the local arts scene: Arts Commons, National Music Centre, Glenbow Museum, Contemporary Calgary and Calgary Arts Development.
They’d also like to see provincial property tax waived for the Culture and Entertainment District over 10 years.
There are additional requests for funding the Foothills multisport fieldhouse, public safety along Calgary’s transit line and investments in rail that connect tourists to regional tourism attractions.
““Ensuring the province supports Calgary’s tourism industry through strategic investments in infrastructure and programming is critical to the growth of the visitor economy of our city, and our province,” said Cindy Ady, CEO Tourism Calgary, in a prepared release.
“The Chamber’s platform highlights forward-looking solutions that will help position our sector – and our economy – for success.”