Calgary budget debate: council debates improved snow clearing

Calgary city council spent most of the morning talking about improving its snow clearing plan as debate continued Wednesday on the city’s four-year budget plan.

Council votes to cancel proposed increase for low-income monthly transit pass

Calgary city council began debating the budget for the next four years at the start of this week. (CBC)

Calgary city council spent most of the morning talking about improving its snow clearing plan as debate continued Wednesday on the city’s four-year budget plan.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi wants to set aside $3.5 million per year from the city's savings for that purpose, while others on council think it should go as high as $5 million. 

Coun. Brian Pincott also proposed spending an additional $4 million to clear snow from 300 kilometres of sidewalks in transit zones, doubling what the city currently clears.

But council voted to leave that discussion to the end of the budget debate so that councillors can see the final shape of the budget before thinking about any additional spending.

No fee hike for low-income transit pass

Council voted on Tuesday to cancel a proposed fee hike for low-income monthly transit passes. The budget had called for the price of the pass to go from $44 dollars per month to $47.

Pincott said freezing the rate for a year will help many in the city who can least afford any kind of cost increase.

“For us to do that for the grand sum of $515,000, to help by my calculation about 24,000 Calgarians, that's a significant difference that we're making.”

The city plans to move to a sliding scale of transit fares for low-income Calgarians, tied to how much money people earn. That system isn't expected to be ready until next fall.

Other transit fare hikes in the budget are expected to be approved by council.

Diamonds getting rough

The city’s proposal to hike user fees for baseball diamonds by five per cent every year for the next four years has Softball Calgary crying foul.

Players in Calgary are already paying the highest fees in the country, while the level of service has been declining, said Kyle Jones, president of Softball Calgary.

The facilities are not being mowed often enough and the fences need repairs, he said.

“Basically our big issue is the overall maintenance staff are being cut and so therefore the diamonds are not being serviced often enough or with enough time to basically be done properly,” he said.

Jones wants the city to turn maintenance over to Softball Calgary so it could hire private contractors to look after the diamonds more cheaply.

“Softball Calgary, with the groups they represent, rent on average over $300,000 a year worth of diamonds. So there's certainly not a lack of money being raised by the city and therefore money that would be available to take care of the diamonds.”

  • CBC city hall reporter Scott Dippel was in council chambers tweeting the budget developments. Follow along in the box below:


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