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Kaun. Jeff Davison, who is also a member of the Calgary Economic Development Board, said the cityIt has plenty of serviced industrial land, skilled workers and a strong transportation system.
“If industrial taxes rise, it will make our job a lot harder to compete,” Davison said.
“Calgary is losing competitiveness with respect to our industrial land base,” he said.
“When some of these (taxes) are rising. . . A significant portion of businesses within the city limits of Calgary begin to look at places such as Balzac and Taza (developed in Susutina Nation) and ask ‘Do I have good tax jurisdiction?’ ”
Davison noted that the city does not have the capacity to change the regionally mandated assessment system to address the structural problems caused by the tax change.
What message does the tax increase send to industrial businesses that the city hopes to attract?
“This is our assessment and tax system, this is the regional system, a very blunt tool,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi told reporters.
In recent years, the council has shifted the tax burden to more homeowners and off-business. It has also created short-term rebate programs to mitigate some of the increases facing local companies, but it is expensive.
Murray Siegler, interim CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, believes the city should get some early relief for businesses next year, but it needs to adopt long-term tax reform and develop a plan to deal with the cost.
“The property tax implications we see in these latest documents are really terrible, but they don’t come as a surprise to us,” Siegler said.
“The council is good at finding one-off, short-term solutions … but we need to go beyond that.”
Chris Varco is a Calgary Herald columnist.