Taxes, Transit Top Voter Issues

By Calgary Leader Editorial Staff

September 2021 – Calgarians rank taxes and transit among their top issues for the upcoming municipal election on Monday, October 18. A Leger poll indicates the majority of voters (54%) want to push ahead with expanding transit plans, such as the Green Line.

The candidates’ positions on transit have been inconsistent until Tuesday, when political veteran, and former MP and MLA Kent Hehr entered the mayoral race. Hehr says the Leger poll shows just how unhappy Calgarians are with the last council. Three former councillors now want the mayor’s chair.

“I believe Calgarians want to elect a more collaborative city council, one that can actually get things done,” says Hehr, “The next mayor shouldn’t be someone responsible for the dysfunction of the last council, but should be someone with political experience.”

A full 68% of Calgarians surveyed don’t endorse the current council being re-elected.

FAIRNESS: A PROGRESSIVE PROPERTY TAX

The city gets the majority of its money from property taxes. A third of those taxes go to the province, leaving the rest to fund city services. 

A progressive property tax system is one that takes the burden off middle class families and small businesses, by taxing expensive homes at a higher rate.

With a progressive property tax, the tax rate increases as the value of the property goes up, similar to how income is taxed in Canada.

The increase in business taxes over the past several years, combined with the disruption of the pandemic, has devastated small business in Calgary. A progressive tax structure would allow small businesses to recover and grow, while drawing more tax revenue from those who can most afford it.

Kent Hehr is set to announce a progressive property tax plan that is fair to all Calgarians. It will cut taxes and help stabilize rent payments for the lowest income Calgarians. Those who have the most ability to pay will shoulder their fair share.

GROWTH: TRANSIT TOPS THE LIST

A 2018 report showed that every dollar of investment into public transportation generates four dollars in economic returns. 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. 

Hehr says transit allows Calgarians to participate in city life more fully, especially for people with mobility challenges. He believes this is key to boosting our local economy, and reinvigorating downtown.

Hehr says he will announce specific plans to make transit a more viable option for families and vulnerable citizens. An accessible, efficient transit system also helps Calgary retain young people and attract tourists.