Calgary council puts off decision on tax breaks for business

Calgary city council has opted not to give businesses in Calgary a break. At least for now.

Proposal by coun. Evan Woolley would see taxes reduced by $30M this year and next

Coun. Evan Woolley is disappointed some councillors oppose his proposed business tax reduction. (CBC)

Calgary city council has opted not to give businesses in Calgary a break. At least for now. 

Ward 8 councillor Evan Woolley wanted council to pass a motion that would reduce business taxes by $30 million in both 2016 and 2017, but council put off making a decision until next week when it will discuss a report on economic resiliency.

Some councillors suggested the tax relief would be too small to make a difference and is too narrowly focused. 

"Like I said before, if we're talking about providing some tax relief to Calgarians, then it should be all Calgarians or none. All or none," said Ward 10's Andre Chabot.

Woolley says the city has already helped homeowners and transit riders, so it's time to give struggling businesses a hand. He's frustrated by opposition to his plan, but will ensure his motion is on the table next week.

"I'm challenged by someone saying that putting $1,200 back into a business's pocket is no big difference," he said. 

"The same thing could be applied when we talk about reductions in our residential property tax rates, right? Every little dollar that we can put back into Calgarians' pocket — especially at times right now — I think is really important."

Woolley wants the tax shortfall to be covered by city savings.

"Last year, that fund grew by $75 million. This is a significant amount of money. This fund is in a very, very healthy position and I would argue that a rebate back to our business community would be a fair and reasonable proposal," he said.

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