Its impact is nearly universal and actively limits options and opportunities for Ward 12 and The City of Calgary — economic recovery is a massive priority.
We can no longer rely on downtown revenue to cover most of our budget. It’s time to attract new investment, diversity into new sectors, and remove bureaucracy that is slowing down progress.
Working alongside organizations like Calgary Economic Development, Calgary’s elected officials can aid or detract from selling our City and way of life. It takes strong collaborative leadership to put our best foot forward and it also requires teachable servant leadership. I have a track record of connecting with people and also giving them room to make their contributions. Effective leadership creates a wave of team buy-in and I look forward to bringing this focus on what local business leaders want, not what I want, to City Hall.
Evan Knows - A Four-Step Action Plan to Help the Local Economy Recover:
Economic Recovery Action #1: Seton Development
In Ward 12 we have the vision of another hub of business and community activity in Seton immediately adjacent to world-class infrastructure in the South Health Campus and Seton YMCA. This is a development that is ripe with opportunities for the future. There are companies across the globe looking to expand and find a future home that combines our affordability, amenities and overall high quality of life.
I will prioritize building relationships with potential investors in our own SE downtown and boldly spread that vision alongside those that first cast the vision. As this becomes more of a reality and office supply is
Economic Recovery Action #2: Downtown Revitalization
The future of our City and the local economy is inextricably linked with the future of our downtown and our downtown is in a lot of trouble. Its historically outsized role in providing revenue to The City means that if it isn’t returned to health the revenue pressures will increasingly fall on businesses outside the core and homeowners alike.
As you can see it has been the downtown businesses that have provided most of the tax base.
The Greater Downtown Plan is targeting revitalization to expedite its transformation. Just about anyone that spends time downtown will tell you it feels lifeless. The strategy of targeting revitalization has worked for other municipalities across North America and will be important to transitioning Calgary into the future economy. I will advocate for and partner with these efforts.
In addition to Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan, I will add my voice alongside efforts to lobby the Provincial government for money to aid in the revitalization. It was a community revitalization levy that transformed East Village downtown into a thriving place of opportunity for businesses and residents alike. Moving forward we will need to use the same targetted approach to nurture downtown back to a place of vibrancy and opportunity that will drive Calgary forward again.
Economic Recovery Action #3: Regulatory Improvements
Experts and those invested in our local economy agree that our regulatory environment needs work to regain/retain Calgary’s business edge. When you talk to businesses that interact with The City on a regular basis to acquire business licences and permits they are often deeply frustrated with the inconsistent feedback they receive and the many hoops they are being asked to jump through before they can move ahead. Time is money for these businesses and bureaucracy is actively stalling investment in our City.
In the recent past, Calgary has made smart improvements to protect the environment and prioritize good planning but there are snarls between City Business Units. Dealing with those inconsistencies and problems should not fall on the laps of the business community that simply wants to invest in our City and Ward. It is time to push The City to streamline the application process and provide targeted supports to ensure that anyone that has a solid business plan/idea has a supported path to seeing it come to fruition.
In those efforts, The City needs to be more willing to embrace some risk. A great example is was the recent push to get outdoor patios licenced due to health restrictions and The City took a 4-8 week process down to 2 weeks by embracing some more risk.
I also want to see The City utilize a case management approach where an applicant is supported and any internal policy conflicts are first managed by a City employee instead of an applicant. If you are starting a business for the first time the paperwork can feel insurmountable and overwhelming. Calgary can be far more business friendly and this will help economic recovery immensely!
Economic Recovery Action #4: Catalytic Investments
Calgary doesn’t have a lot of extra resources to invest these days but investing public money that pays off big down the road is a strategy that should never be taken off the table. It is extremely important that this be done in close collaboration with the private sector with a priority on letting a competitive process select who gets the funds vs. the private sector picking winners and losers.
Recent examples like the Calgary Film Centre and catalytic investments in growing sectors like our booming technology industry through the OCIF Venture Capital Fund are excellent examples of The City doing what it can to help expedite the diversification of our local economy. These investments will pay off BIG for all Calgarians down the road.
We can also incentivize businesses looking to invest in Calgary by incentivizing their investment with short-term tax breaks if they choose to make Calgary home. This short-term strategy leads to long-term payoffs when those companies root and flourish in our City.