News / Calgary

City Charters: Calgary and Edmonton not getting new tax powers

Province of Alberta pitches revenue sharing model for infrastructure cash.

Alberta Legislature.

Kevin Tuong / Metro

Alberta Legislature.

Put down your tax-fighting pitchfork; if you were looking for new taxation powers to fight against in the new City Charter you won't find them.

On Thursday, the province released their long-awaited agreement with the City's of Calgary and Edmonton with more than 30 enabling regulations that either give the municipalities new powers or tweak existing rules to help the city's work more independently.

"The framework will respect taxpayers and public dollars," said Joe Ceci, Alberta Minister of Finance. He addressed concerns that these new provisions would allow cities to have new taxation powers. "There are no new taxes or additional taxation powers for the city."

Not all of the changes are mandated, some give municipalities the ability to opt into new legislative powers outlined in the Charter.

Although it was anticipated that the Charters could bring new taxation powers, the only fiscal changes proposed include a new formula for determining infrastructure funding which would eliminate traditional grants and give Calgary and Edmonton a share of provincial revenues.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi joked that citizens reading the policy changes may glaze over.

"I happen to think it's super sexy," said Nenshi. "It's the most significant change we've made to inter-municipal relations in the province."

He said the work on the City Charters are far from over, in fact, they're just beginning.

"It's important we have clarity on the new fiscal framework," said Nenshi. "It's about predictable, long-term, sustainable financing for our city's capital needs."

A new provision would also allow cities to set their own operating budget requirements and give Edmonton and Calgary the power to run multi-year operational deficits, which the MGA currently doesn't allow.

The draft charters will be posted online for 60 days of public and stakeholder comments before the province enacts the regulations under the Municipal Government Act in Fall 2017.

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