Saturday, November 27, 2010

City of Calgary Budget - Get Ready for November 29

I'm a little short on time right now, but Better Calgary would like to remind everyone to provide input on the budget. Conveniently, Brian Pincott's office provided an email on how to do this, quoted below. Also, check out Chris Harper's new site where he plans to archive the council meeting webcasts.

Council will begin budget deliberations for the 2011 Calgary budget on November 29th. There has been a lot of coverage of the budget so far, and in preparation for the conversation that we need to have, I wanted to touch base with you.

First off, the numbers:

Back in the spring, Council was advised that there was an expected shortfall of $60M if the 2011 strategic plan was implemented as is. This number was estimated using economic projections of such things as: the price of natural gas, the expected inflation rate (both CPI and MPI (municipal price index), anticipated transit usage, housing starts, etc.  As we got closer to the actual date of budget deliberations these projections were updated with more current estimates. Thus the budget shortfall we are now looking at is $47M. In 2008 the tax rate increase based on the approved business plan was 6.7% - removing $47M from the budget is necessary to reach this 6.7% number.

To put the numbers into perspective for you: a 1% property tax increase represents $10 million of City revenue. For the average homeowner in Calgary, 1% property tax increase is $10 a year*. That means that the 6.7% property tax increase that is budgeted represents an average of about $6.60 a month.

*(Remember this is to the municipal portion of your property tax bill; approximately half of the total bill. The other half of your property tax bill goes to the Province, and that rate is set by the Provincial Government.)
In addition to the $47M adjustment to the budget, Council is also looking at an additional $35M in possible cuts in order to reduce the anticipated tax increase from 6.7% to approximately 3.2%. Both Council and Administration are expecting to achieve the majority of these budget adjustments to reach 6.7% by cancelling yet-to-happen growth to city services; largely leaving services at their current level.
That is Council’s starting point leading up to the budget deliberations. I have received all this information and will be reviewing it over the next days. Not only am I looking at the proposed cuts, but I am also looking through the entire budget looking for any other savings as well as eliminating inefficiencies in processes and programs.
I would like to hear from you.

This year, the City has set up a page on its website to allow you to review the proposed cuts and to give your feedback. The website is There you can see the various proposals (which is the same information I have) prior to the November 29th Council meeting. 

Please take the time to have a look at the documents, and let me know what you think by ...  posting comments to the City’s blog; or by tweeting to #yycbudget. Are there programs being proposed for cuts that you disagree with? Are there other things not on the list that you think could be cut? What about opportunities for generating revenue?

Go to for more information and details.
Brian Pincott 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

This Council is in Session!

On Monday, November 8th the first council meeting will begin at 9:30am. This council is moving fast. It is time to pay attention!

As the Better Calgary Campaign has not yet met and formally mobilized, we want to quickly share a few things you can do right now. The first step: read the agenda for the council meeting at .

Key items on the agenda:
  • City Manager's report: Southeast LRT Green Trip Proposal
  • Notice of Motion: Fish Creek, Lacombe LRT Station Area TOD plan (Alderman Colley-Urquhart)
  • Notice of Motion: Airport Trail Underpass (Alderman Stevenson)
  • Notice of Motion: 2011 Budget Projections (Mayor Nenshi)
Follow the above link to the agenda for more details on each of the key items.

The second step: Let your alderman know what you want before the meeting starts.

The third step: Attend the meeting or part of the meeting or watch it online at and follow and participate in the #yyccc hashtag on Twitter.

It could be dull at times, so invite friends to join you! Also, check out for their Blue Monday plan for the council meeting.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Back to the Better Calgary Campaign

The Better Calgary Campaign sat out the 2010 election as the people with the passwords and email lists were all busy campaigning for specific candidates. We were happy to see so many people engaged in the issues during the election and encouraged by 54% voter turn-out.

What is next for BCC? We still believe in volunteering to make Calgary a more sustainable place to live and in doing this through impacting the political process. We're a City Hall watchdog, keeping a close eye on City Council and the decisions it makes. We champion smart growth, sustainability and vibrant communities. We foster debate and discussion on policies. We hold the politicians to account, celebrating their smart choices and casting light on the bad ones. The new council is already taking action and it's time for Better Calgary to pay attention.

Take a look at the issues page on our website If you agree that these are the six most important issues and want to work towards our vision of Calgary, contact me at info (at) about volunteering. Or talk to me at First Thursday tomorrow night. More info on volunteer roles will be posted on the Get Involved page of the website in a few days.

Kate Easton