Calgary jobs promised with city council's approval of $47M in stimulus spending

City council says it's responding to concerns about the economic downturn in Calgary by spending more in 2016. They say the move to accelerate several capital projects will help create up to 400 jobs.

Accelerating capital projects could create up to 400 more jobs in 2016, says city

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says council's plan Wednesday to speed up infrastructure projects as a form of economic stimulus will create 400 new jobs. (CBC)

Calgary city council has approved a plan to boost its capital spending by $47 million in 2016, primarily with a view to creating new jobs in a tough economy.

City officials estimate the injection of funds could create up to 400 jobs. These are projects which are part of the city's four-year budget plan, but weren't supposed to start until 2017 or 2018.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said 27 projects will now get started in 2016 instead, as a type of stimulus spending.

"We have heard loud and clear from Calgarians that they want their city government to do something in terms of this economic downturn," Nenshi said.

"So we are able to accelerate some projects that are already approved." 

The projects to now start in 2016 include replacing fencing, paving pathways and parking lots and upgrading a number of city buildings and the West Hillhurst Community Association arena.

The mayor said the measures will do more than just create construction jobs.

Those workers will continue to do things like buy lunches or new work boots, all of which Nenshi says will help spread money through the local economy.

Much of the money for the projects will come from city savings but one thing it won't do is raise next year's property taxes. 

Calgary city council voted to accelerate infrastructure projects to create 400 new jobs at a meeting Wednesday. (CBC)

"Everything we're talking about today is already funded. It was just funded for 2017 or 2018 and we have sufficient cash reserves to be able to accelerate that without borrowing any more money in most cases," said Nenshi. 

Earlier this fall, city council unanimously approved a property tax hike of 3.5 per cent for 2016. That increase will add about $60 to the annual tax bill for a median-priced Calgary house.

Councillors say they're pleased to advance work on 27 different capital projects and create jobs at the same time.

"I think the important piece in this is looking at how we can get more projects done more quickly. We have a really good economic stimulus tool that we can use and that's what today's about," said Coun. Brian Pincott.

The additional money was just part of the massive $2.34 billion capital budget for 2016. City council voted 14-0 to finalize the spending plan.