Calgary Minute: Local Emergency, Tax Increases, and Massive Surpluses
Calgary Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Calgary politics
This Week In Calgary:
Technically this happened at 8:51pm last night, but Calgary is now officially in a state of local emergency due to COVID-19. City-owned recreation centres and libraries are closed from today onwards, restaurants, bars, and such will be limited to 250 people or half their usual fire capacity (whichever is lower). Grocery stores, malls, big box stores, transit, shelters, care centres, casinos, offices and a few other types of places are exempt. Offices, however, are being encouraged to allow as many staff to work from home as possible.
Monday's Combined Meeting of Council will proceed but only half of Council will be present in person while the other half will participate via phone as an extra precaution. Also, for the first time, Calgarians will be able to present to Council via phone, rather than only in person. The agenda will include discussions on the Green Line, the Downtown District and convention centres, the Low Income Transit Pass, and more.
- On Tuesday, the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit meeting in the morning is cancelled, but the Standing Policy Committee on Utilities and Corporate Services meeting in the afternoon will go ahead. On Wednesday, the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will meet in the morning while the Calgary Planning Commission will meet in the afternoon.
Last Week In Calgary:
- It was revealed that the City is raising taxes by 8.9% even though they have a $129 million surplus. Why? Presumably, because they need that money to spend next year too. If you haven't already, please click here to sign our petition to Council demanding they cancel this insane 8.9% tax hike.
Wondering where all that money goes? Well, on Wednesday Council debated their plan to resume funding public art via an "independent arms-length organization". There were lots of questions about accountability, who would be able to bid, and whether this organization would be subject to FOIPs - all of which went unanswered. One thing we did learn - the "pause" in the art program for the last few years really wasn't a pause. They stopped building new art, but the money has still been piling up, and they're planning on "catching up" and spending it all once this new plan is approved.
- Finally, ten years ago, Calgary's planners came up with a plan for the City's development. Here we are 10-years later and it turned out that all the assumptions that plan was based on were utterly incorrect. So, are the City's planners changing their plans for the next 10-year plan? No, of course not, they're doubling down on their old plan!
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