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Downtown revitalization key part of Calgary Chamber's 2023 provincial election platform

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The Calgary Chamber has released its provincial election platform, including priorities the organization hopes whomever is elected will embrace.

Policy initiatives call for specific investments into Calgary's downtown core and support for small businesses.

The platform, titled Accelerate: Driving Alberta Forward, is billed as a business-led, solutions-oriented plan to "build economic momentum and achieve economic resilience."

It has also outlined spending ideas for province's projected $12.3 billion surplus.

The Chamber would suggest 30 per cent for debt reduction, 40 per cent for the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, 20 per cent on one-time investments, and 10 per cent for the continuation of affordability measures to alleviate inflation.

Those one-time spending items would focus on infrastructure in Calgary's downtown for arts and entertainment venues to bolster vibrancy and increase tourism.

CALGARY DRIVES ECONOMY

Officials say the province should focus on Calgary as the economic driver for the province.

"To see the province backing Calgary is really critical. We are the corporate headquarters for this province," said Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

The plan also includes tax policy suggestions, such as a freeze on the corporate TD rate at eight per cent and the elimination of the small business tax rate.

One café owner in the Beltline says more investment is needed to alleviate pressure after the recent economic crisis followed by pandemic restrictions.

"For small businesses like myself with all the challenges that has been going on for the last three years," said Yin Sung, owner of Sucre Patisserie and Café.

She added, "inflation is up, food cost is up and everyone needs to survive."

SUPPORT FOR CALGARY

Mayor Jyoti Gondek says most of the platform aligns with initiatives and plans at the City of Calgary to support the local economy.

"Small businesses have taken quite a hit over the last few years, thats something (the Chamber is) advocating for on behalf of their membership so it's good to see."

The Downtown Calgary Association also supports funding initiatives to improve vibrancy in the core, to encourage more activity and spending."

The executive director says one-time investments for facility upgrades are important, but is calling for all levels of government to commit to long-term support.

"Those investments are not just one time investments, it needs to be an on-going investment. So if they could match the city investment, fantastic, but then five years from now we need those investments to continue with the economic growth," said Mark Garner.

'ACCELERATE' POINT-BY-POINT

Developed in consultation with Calgary Chamber members, the election platform – released on Tuesday -- includes 120 recommendations in 21 areas under the five following headings:

  • Fiscal responsibility: Allocate the surplus in line with our economic context today and forecasts for the coming years, ensuring Alberta’s economy is set up for success today and tomorrow.
  • Affordability and rising costs: Introduce measures to alleviate the pressure of rising costs on businesses and families, helping build resiliency through economic headwinds.
  • Economic diversification and competitiveness: Advance our traditional industries while driving investment and growth in emerging economic sectors, de-risking innovation, enhancing access to capital and creating a competitive investment landscape across our economy.
  • Talent and labour: Growing Alberta’s talent pool, ensuring businesses have access to talent by investing in education and training, streamlining immigration systems and increasing access to affordable childcare.
  • Strategic infrastructure investments: Investing in infrastructure that supports community vibrancy, transport and mobility, safety and security, making Alberta a magnet for talent and facilitating the growth of infrastructure-dependent sectors.

You can view the complete platform on the Calgary Chamber's website.

Alberta's next provincial election is scheduled on May 29.

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