Calgary Minute: AUMA Convention, Corporate Welfare, and a Boondoggle Train

Calgary Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Calgary politics.

This Week In Calgary:

  • There are no Council or Committee meetings this week as the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) Convention is happening in Edmonton from Wednesday to Friday.

  • At the AUMA Convention, our municipal representatives and administrators will be joined by 1,100 of their counterparts for dialogue sessions with provincial Ministers, and breakout topics including panels on policing, ethics in municipal government, engaging with local media, disaster readiness, and more. No sessions are currently scheduled on how to cut taxes, reduce taxpayer waste, or increase transparency. Maybe next year?

  • Elected officials will also vote on a series of policy resolutions that will guide AUMA's provincial and federal lobbying efforts for the next year and could be quite influential. You can look at the full list of policy resolutions here. Calgary put forward one resolution on waste management storage site operational practices which, to summarize, says Calgary thinks that recycling businesses aren't regulated enough and that the province should either regulate them or let the City do it because more regulation is what every industry needs. This, of course, comes at an awkward time for the City after it was revealed in August that the City had to trash 2,000 tones of plastic clamshells after failing to secure a business partner to sell the product to. But sure, let's make recycling harder!

 

Last Week In Calgary:

  • During Monday's Council meeting our tax-and-spend Councilors led the charge against those pesky neighbouring communities that do ridiculous things like offer businesses reasonable tax rates. You see, instead of getting our own fiscal house in order, Calgary Council would very much like to eliminate the competition coming from neighbouring communities, and they believe Regional Growth Management Boards dominated by Calgary are the answer. This is ultimately bad news for both Calgary residents and our neighbours as tax and regulatory competition lead to better outcomes for all.

  • Calgary Economic Development (ECD) was also really hoping we'd stopped paying attention to municipal politics and their continued misuse of taxpayer dollars, announcing last week that they have given out another $3.5-million in corporate welfare. In a joint statement with the city, the company receiving the welfare claims that this "investment" will help them set up an office in Calgary and create 200 new jobs. The only problem? The company's website shows not only that they already have staff in Calgary, but also that they were already planning to expand in Calgary earlier this year. That's right, your tax dollars just paid a private company to do something they were already doing anyway! Hooray? 

  • A high-speed train between Calgary and Edmonton has been proposed *yet again*. High-speed trains are a favourite boondoggle of environmentalists and others who don't understand economics - it's so bad that in the US even most left-wing economists and activists groups recognize how much of a gigantic waste of money they are - and that's in places with much higher population density. Let's be clear, this is a train that would primarily benefit rich business types and politicians travelling from downtown Edmonton to downtown Calgary, but would be paid for by everyone else because you can bet it wouldn't be built without taxpayer money. Thank god there's no chance of it ever actually being built!


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