This plan is built by, and for, the members of the Calgary Chamber. The thousands of local businesses, most of them small, who care about this city and want to make it an even better place to live, work and grow a business.
Given the economic realities our city has faced over the past few years, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, it’s time for some bold new ideas.
The success of our city depends on the success of our business community. Our hope is that the candidates elected to City Council recognize how businesses create jobs for Calgarians, and build a competitive economic environment for our city. We see the 2017 election as an opportunity to raise awareness of how decisions at City Hall impact business and citizens.
This campaign – A Calgary that Works – has been developed with wide ranging contributors, from small business owners, top executives, academics and leaders in community and arts.
On this website you will find new policy ideas, solutions-focused recommendations, a hub of candidate information from every ward and the Mayor’s race, as well as information on how these candidates respond to key business and economic questions.
The Chamber has been actively engaging with declared candidates for Mayor and City Council, to ensure that each candidate endorses business priorities and will be a strong representative for Calgary businesses.
We also want you, the voter, to be aware of the issues and see that electing representatives who understand the value of business in our city benefits us all.
On October 2nd, we’ll be hosting a Mayor’s Town Hall, where real business owners will get to ask candidates real questions in person.
We invite you to come.
Things have changed since the last Calgary Election.
In October 2013, our great city was booming. The unemployment rate was at 4.6%, the price of oil was hovering around $100/barrel, and the biggest issue facing the business community was trying to find enough talented labour to fill job openings. Between municipal elections from October 2010 to October 2013 - Calgary added 93,000 jobs.
During the last municipal election, Calgary was going through a growing period. Population in Calgary was soaring, reaching 1.1 million people, with net migration peaking at 19,067 in 2013. In 2013, Calgary had 12,584 housing starts (beginning construction on a new house), reaching a peak of 17,131 new homes in 2014.
Things are much different heading into the 2017 Municipal Election.
In 2016, Calgary lost 6,527 people in net migration, and by the end of 2017, housing starts are expected to fall to 44% of 2014 levels.
Vacancy rates in Calgary have also skyrocketed. In 2016, Calgary’s residential vacancy rate for all dwellings rose to 4.3%, up from just 2% in 2014. Calgary’s apartment vacancy rate reached 6.9% in 2016, a level not seen since Calgary’s Great Recession in 1982-84. And at nearly 30%, Calgary’s downtown office vacancy rate is the highest of any major global city.
Business activity is less impressive heading into this election. Between 2014 and 2016, Calgary lost roughly $4.6 billion in economic output. This is $800 million more than was lost in the City during the global recession of 2008. In 2016 alone, 7,124 businesses closed their doors.
In 2014, 16,104 new businesses incorporate in Calgary. In 2016, that number was down by 8.5%. Our economy has taken a very large hit, and while recovery is forecasted, it is unlikely that our economy will return to the way it was in the near future.
Calgarians didn’t just lose economic and business activity - we lost many good paying jobs. Calgary’s problems are not just business problems - Calgary’s economic woes have impacted all Calgarians. Through the downturn, tens of thousands of our neighbours have been laid off, and today, many are still seeking full-time work. Our unemployment rate, which was the envy of other major Canadian cities, is now the highest.
This isn’t a short-term issue. While business leaders are optimistic about the future, nearly 80% believe the economy has fundamentally changed, and is unlikely to return to what it once was.
Businesses have had to make some tough decisions in order to survive. Difficult times call for different approaches and innovations with respect to how we do business in our City. We need City Hall to do the same. While City Council has tried to do things differently, there is more that can be done. Jobs, capital investment and the tax base may be further eroded if they do not take action.
We need A Calgary that Works.