si-penny-tax

A proposed increase of one per cent to the GST could fund municipal projects. (CBC)

A proposed "penny tax" could add $350 million a year to Calgary’s budget.

The tax — which would need public support in the form of a plebiscite and approval from all three levels of government — would add one per cent to the GST locally to pay for major municipal infrastructure projects.

Calgary businessman George Brookman floated the idea Monday, September 26, at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

"We need a new convention centre or we need a new public library and that one's got the attention right now. People are looking for ways to pay for them," he said, speaking on behalf of Transformation Calgary, a group of business and community leaders who have been studying ways to raise public infrastructure funds for more than a year.

 

Calgary, said Brookman, needs billions of dollars in new facilities — but doesn't have the money to pay for them.

"When we start sponsoring LRT stations, it really to me makes no sense whatsoever to run a city of a million plus people with ad hoc little bits of funding — we'll be collecting bottles next. We need to figure out a better plan."

Brookman says the first step is to see if there's community support for the tax, which would be directed to a specific project and have a firm timeline. 

Former Toronto mayor David Miller proposed a similar idea in 2007, but it was quickly shut down by the federal government, which was in the process of cutting the GST.