Kent Hehr has a plan to return Calgary to a position of economic strength. In order to do that, we need to harness our talent and uplift our vulnerable. We need bold ideas that have been proven to be successful, and that is what Kent’s plan contains.
A 2020 report showed that every dollar of investment into public transportation generates four dollars in economic returns. [A] The same report notes that 71% of public funding for transit flows through to the private sector economy, stimulating job creation for the community.
According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, transit is an issue that affects every single citizen, regardless of whether they use it. Drivers get the benefit of reduced traffic on the roads. Riders gain equitable access to our shared city. An accessible, efficient transit system also helps Calgary retain young people and attract tourists.
Transit allows Calgarians to participate in city life more fully, especially for people with mobility challenges.
An accessible, efficient transit system also helps Calgary retain young people and attract tourists.
Return to economic growth
Our city needs a champion to fuel development, and provide direction. One of the mayor’s most important responsibilities is to be that champion.
Calgary businesses have been leveled by exponential increases in property tax, as much as 400% in some cases. For local business owners, this situation is untenable, particularly because they’re also contending with the challenge of keeping the lights on during our economic downturn and the pandemic. [A]
The city also sees a worrying lack of interest from young workers and established businesses migrating here. Calgary must work to attract these populations, and facilitate opportunities to thrive in an environment that supports industry.
Strategies for accomplishing this include cementing our status as what’s called an “18-hour city.” That’s an idea many cities are capitalizing on, to make sure the city’s economy is flourishing outside the 9-5 time frame.
An 18-hour city means having:
- Population growth, particularly young people;
- Job growth, particularly in tech;
- Good transit;
- A vibrant, densely populated downtown;
- Low crime; and,
- Regional distinctiveness. [B]
A report on 18-hour cities in the US noted that when cities see cultural and economic growth and investment, they see a corresponding increase in property value. Interestingly, 18-hour markets outperformed 24-hour cities in the residential sector. [B]
Another strategy to return Calgary to economic growth is to establish one or more innovation hubs. The Brookings Institution describes an innovation hub or district as a, “collision of physical, networking and economic assets – all working together to create an innovation ecosystem that facilitates idea generation and accelerates commercialization.” [D]
Innovation districts are popping up in many world-class cities, including Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Seoul, Stockholm, Atlanta, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and here in Canada in Halifax, Montreal, and Toronto-Waterloo.
The Halifax Innovation District describes the idea this way, “Innovation often sounds intangible. But innovation districts aren’t. They are highly productive and densely concentrated areas in cities where people, firms, and innovative culture work together to generate and accelerate new ideas.”
Kent’s plans to grow the economy also include acknowledging the shifting nature of work by:
- Increasing support for coworking spaces, as remote work becomes more common.
- Increasing support for blockchain embassies.These emerging hubs have a shared mission to enable better understanding of the complex but increasingly mainstream technology.
Calgary already has what it takes to put this proven plan into action. We just need a city council that is motivated to do it.
Support small and local businesses
Use the tools outlined in the Municipal Governance Act to implement exemptions, incentives, and other tools to support small and local businesses, and encourage resilient and sustainable development.