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Calgary community pools saved as council votes down cost-saving proposals

Calgary city council continues looking to cut budget
WATCH ABOVE: Calgary city council continues looking at ways to cut the budget. Gil Tucker reports.

Those supporting two Calgary community pools slated for closure can breathe a sigh of relief, as council came up with money to keep them open — for now.

The city had previously said Beltline and Inglewood pools would be closing as part of a $60-million budget reduction announced back in July.

READ MORE: Calgary councillor looking for open conversation on future of Inglewood Aquatic Centre

On Thursday, the city said they’d be staying open on a “use it or lose it” basis for the time being, meaning the community needs to come out and prove their worth.

Calgary city council also turned down two proposals that would have cut $100 million in spending from the 2020 city budget.

Councillor Joe Magliocca and two other councillors put forward a proposal to cut $50 million in spending across several city departments.

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That was defeated, along with another proposal from the same councillors that would have cut $50 million from a city program that provides tax breaks and other incentives in an effort to attract new businesses to Calgary.

Magliocca said he’s heard complaints from many established local businesses, upset that their taxes are rising while the city puts money toward subsidizing businesses that might become their competitors.

“I’m just, you know, so frustrated,” Magliocca said. “If you want to attract new businesses to Calgary, that’s what we’ve got to start doing — start giving tax relief and stop taxing them to death.”

Councillors who voted against cutting money from the program said that with so many people struggling in Calgary’s tough economy, it’s important to attract as many new businesses as possible to the city.

“We have something called the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund and it’s one of the few tools we have left in our toolbox for attracting business,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

“Because for better or worse, the province has also cut the investment tax credits and the things we were using for bringing people here. So to cut that now, as it’s starting to see success, I think it’s a bad idea.”

Calgary Chamber of Commerce CEO talks city budget
Calgary Chamber of Commerce CEO talks city budget

Council will continue dealing with finalizing the 2020 budget on Friday.

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Items on the agenda include a proposal to reconsider scrapping the city’s $290-million contribution to a new arena for the Calgary Flames and spending the money instead on the Green Line LRT project, as well as putting money into affordable housing and building a new downtown police station.

READ MORE: Calgary councillor poses scrapping arena deal amid budget deliberations

Council is also expected to spend time Friday looking at shifting some of the tax burden from businesses to homeowners.