Calgary·Opinion

Mayoral candidate Jason Achtymichuk, on the challenges facing Calgary

CBC Calgary has offered each candidate for the office of mayor the opportunity to write up to 700 words on our website, outlining what they believe to be the greatest challenges facing our city, and what they would do about those challenges if elected. This is Jason Achtymichuk's contribution.

'My platform includes meaningful corporate tax cuts to throw a life line to small businesses'

Jason Achtymichuk is running for mayor of Calgary. (City of Calgary/CBC)

Editor's Note: As part of our coverage for the Oct. 16 civic election, CBC Calgary has offered each candidate for the office of mayor the opportunity to write up to 700 words on our website, outlining what they believe to be the greatest challenges facing our city, and what they would do about those challenges if elected. These articles are run as submitted — edited only to meet CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices. This article is part of that series. The CBC's primary goal through our election coverage is to provide citizens with the information they need to make an informed decision on polling day.


TAXES

Small businesses are the driver of our economy.

Recently, they have faced costly changes to provincial and federal policies such as minimum wage and corporate tax hikes. These changes have led to significantly increased cost structures in a time of reduced revenue. My platform includes meaningful corporate tax cuts to throw a life line to small businesses. If these businesses continue to go under, our revenue base will inevitably shrink. A tax cut may reduce revenue, but will maintain jobs.

We must also cut red tape in the city's approval process. These processes can involve several city departments, can be lengthy and costly, and add significantly to the capital required to potential job-creating investments.

PUBLIC ART

I believe this issue arose over a lack of explanation and communication.

In 1990, The National Gallery of Canada purchased a Barnett Newman Titled "Voices of Fire" for $1.76 million. The public and Members of Parliament were outraged. This was followed up in 1993 by the purchase of a Rothko titled "Number 16" for $1.8 million, and the same controversy and outrage ensued.

Today, art experts estimate each of those pieces worth $50 million, and perhaps as high as $120 million. Collectively, they are now the jewels of our national gallery. Public opinion cannot and should not drive our art public art decisions. Why does public art cost so much? It needs to be safe, which may involve pouring concrete and using heavy equipment for installation. Why not a local artist? Art is in our free trade agreement. This means that as Calgary's art community grows, they are able to apply for a public art installation or bid in any North American city.

Protectionism on this issue will only hurt the many local artists, perhaps to serve a few. The objective and subjective nature of art? Objectively, art has an intrinsic value. Experts and collectors understand the nature of this art subjectively (there are no Hawaiian sunsets today hanging in the Louvre).

The subjective nature comes from the public discussion, maybe you like it, maybe you hate it, or maybe you feel indifferent, which is what art is supposed to do. The key to this is not only the location of the art, for example, if the Blue ring were on Scotsmans' hill, framing the downtown landscape, would it be perceived differently?

The only way to truly satisfy the public is to create such a diverse public landscape of art that there will be something for everyone. Perhaps the city has to look at providing a tax credit for private companies to fund this type of program. Wouldn't it be nice to entice our the private sector to commission the next big public art piece?

Contemporary Calgary is trying to create a gallery of unimaginable scale for Calgary from the private sector. They offered the city a 10 year deal with a 5 year option on a building that the city owns. The city came back with a 33 month deal in an off-sight shed from the preferred location. This is why nothing has gotten done on this important endeavour.

ARENA

It is important to define and understand public contributions.

There is a critical distinction between cash and "in-kind" contributions.

Non-cash contributions can be helpful, but can also be esoteric and difficult to value. What is the true value of land contribution? Should the infrastructure/LRT improvements be considered a contribution? We must be mindful that in-kind donations and loans are not cash. Additionally, only those items that contribute directly to the actual building should be considered. A new facility will attract both locals and tourists to games, concerts and special events.

In addition, I believe the Flames are essential for the vibrancy and economic wellbeing of our city. The current Saddledome is antiquated, is the oldest facility in the NHL, and is ill-equipped to host major events. While there will be primary and secondary financial benefits to the new arena, the potential tertiary effects could be astronomical.

Overall, I'm supportive of direct financial contributions to ensure a new facility gets built. I can't formulate a specific financial plan based on current public information, but I support direct and indirect fiscal contributions.

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