The time has finally come! Next week, City Council will begin deliberations on the budget adjustments proposed by City Administration earlier this month. What did we find when our team dug through these recommendations? Keep reading to find out.
We know budgets can be overwhelming and, to be quite frank, downright boring. Especially considering that they often aren't written so the average person can understand. Whatever happened to plain-language documents and participatory budgeting?!
Well, our team at the Hub, in collaboration with Sustainable Calgary, spent hours and hours digging through the recommendations so you don't have to. And they prepared some pretty great recommendations of their own to throw back at Council.
It's time to create a Climate Action Reserve and fill it - and the Established Areas Infrastructure Investment Fund - with transfers of unallocated funds from other reserves. This will ensure that servicing to existing communities is prioritized and that the climate lens is applied when the City makes its investments.
Operational Reduction Reinvestment and Capital Reallocation
The City should reallocate funds to enhance its work on climate, improved mobility, and aiding the most vulnerable. The City should invest these reallocated funds in public transit, net-zero building upgrades, urban forestry, habitat restoration and naturalization of parks and open spaces, and designated walking and cycling infrastructure.
The City's Major Capital Building projects will still be with us in 2050, which also happens to be the year the City is to achieve its climate goals. How will it achieve these goals if buildings today aren't designed to meet future, net-zero targets? Before the City can commit further funds to these projects, it must identify the amount of funding required to achieve 'net-zero' status for these projects.
Growth Due Diligence
With an excess of approved suburban land and an economy in a nosedive, it would be irresponsible to provide servicing for the 14 suburban communities approved in 2018 until considerations are made, such as an up-to-date civic census, new supply-demand forecasting, a city-wide growth strategy, a framework for assessing the impact of growth on the City's climate targets, and risk-adaptation funding tools. Instead, the City should be putting the tax and user fee savings in the Climate Action Reserves!
Equity in Revenue Generation
Calgary is the most unequal large city in Canada and it's necessary to identify and reduce inequities in revenue generation. What if the City replaced the current flat taxes and fees with separate assessments of land and building property, and progressive tax brackets?
Cost of Living Increase
Over half of Calgarians have already agreed that council should raise property tax to at least the rate of inflation to protect the delivery of city services. Considering that Calgary has the 3rd lowest residential property tax rate in Canada, a small increase in property tax - while also providing support to low-income Calgarians - could make a big difference.
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