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Calgary forced to estimate on carbon levy costs: report

Councillor says levy on mass transit could discourage ridership

The city knows gas prices will be going up when the province brings in its new carbon levy next year, but it's struggling to estimate some other costs.

Metro File

The city knows gas prices will be going up when the province brings in its new carbon levy next year, but it's struggling to estimate some other costs.

The province’s planned carbon levy has left city administration with a lot more questions than answers as it tries to budget for the future.

Both the provincial and federal governments are promising to tax carbon, and while the city knows it will mean about $6 million extra on its fuel and power bills, that number is, at best, a rough estimate.

A report to council coming forward at Monday's meeting notes that the math is straightforward on diesel and gasoline, but things get fuzzy on natural gas and electricity due to the way those are delivered.

Coun. Ward Sutherland, vice chair of the city’s Priorities and Finance Committee, said the uncertainty is doubly bad because the province won’t specify what sort of rebates the city can expect once the tax is in place.

He said given what they know about increasing fuel costs, either transit prices will have to go up, transit hours will need to be cut, or the city will have to raise property taxes to make up the difference.

“To tax us on mass transit – it’s beyond belief – because first of all, the LRT is on wind power,” said Sutherland. “Secondly, we have the most fuel-efficient buses around.”

Sutherland wants to see the province put the tax off for a year and get its ducks in a row before rolling it out.

“I think it’s really inappropriate under the economic situation right now that they’re even considering it. Why can’t they delay it one year?”

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