Notley reaffirms NDP's vision for Alberta's economy at Calgary Chamber of Commerce

Opposition leader Rachel Notley says the NDP hopes to work with Calgarians in order to "breathe new life" into the city's downtown core, which is struggling with a vacancy rate near 30 per cent.

Reviving downtown core, building Green Line LRT are priorities, Notley says

'We have to go well beyond the energy sector, renewable and non-renewable, to diversify Alberta’s economy and secure our future,' Rachel Notley said while addressing the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley reaffirmed her party's vision for the province's economic recovery in a Zoom presentation at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

She said she would work with Calgarians to reinvigorate the city's downtown core and finally get the Green Line LRT built.

The Official Opposition has an initiative called Alberta's Future that encourages Albertans to submit suggestions and ideas on its website for rebuilding the economy.

The site is also where the party's proposals for rebuilding the economy are published, and include strategies for affordable child care and renewable energy.

Speaking in Calgary, Notley reiterated the NDP's proposals for economic recovery and development, and stressed the importance of planning for when the pandemic is over.

"We need to start planning for what comes next, we need a vision for after the vaccine," Notley said.

"When the pandemic is over, we will need a longer-term strategy to grow small businesses — they are the backbone of our economy, after all — and we also need to look at new supports to assist their workers."

Downtown core, Green Line priorities, Notley says

Notley said the NDP hopes to work with Calgarians in order to "breathe new life" into the city's downtown core, which struggled with a vacancy rate near 30 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

According to Notley, the NDP wants to consult with business owners, executives, tech startups, post-secondary leaders, community groups and "every single Calgarian that wants a say" in the future of the city's unused office space.

She also pledged that the NDP would work to get the long-embattled Green Line built, citing its importance to the 20,000 Calgarians its construction would employ and the 60,000 who would use it.

The project is the largest in Calgary's history, with a potential price tag of $5.5 billion and plenty of ongoing controversy.

Since October, the city has been working with the province in order to deal with concerns raised in a consultant's report the province still hasn't shared with the city. 

"This project should not be a political football," Notley said. "It should be a governance field goal."

Child care and renewables

Notley also stressed the importance of the NDP's proposal for implementing provincewide, universal $25-a-day early learning and child care.

"Child care is the next medicare, and it will make a fundamental difference in both the lives of parents and our ability to recover the economy faster, and more equitably," Notley said. 

"It boosts household income and reduces poverty, it improves educational outcomes for children and their earning potential later in life … there is no economic recovery without affordable child care. Period."

Proposals for the exploration of hydrogen and geothermal resources to diversify the energy industry have also been drafted by the NDP, and were underscored by Notley at the presentation.

"This is where the world is going," Notley said. "According to Goldman Sachs, global investment in the suite of renewable energy as a whole is set to surpass oil and gas for the first time ever this year."

With files from Drew Anderson.