Alberta’s NDP is promising to spend at least $155 million to revitalize Calgary’s downtown core if elected in 2023.
On Friday, the party unveiled a number of proposals to address the city’s “hollowed-out” downtown core as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposals include a plan to match the City of Calgary’s existing $55-million investment to improve public spaces downtown. The party also plans to match the city’s $100-million investment into projects that will support office conversions into affordable housing units.
This investment is a stark contrast to the UCP’s “paltry” $5-million contribution in budget 2022, the NDP said.
The provincial investment previously received sharp criticism from Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.
“Calgary has consistently ranked as one of the best cities in the world,” NDP municipal affairs critic Joe Ceci said at a press conference on Friday.
“We have great strengths and we want to restore the vibrancy to downtown so we can use those strengths strategically.”
NDP leader Rachel Notley said she will make economic diversification in Calgary a priority to attract investment into the city’s downtown core.
If elected, the party will be reinstating the Alberta Investor Tax Credit and the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit to attract Canada’s tech and innovation sector to Calgary.
The credits were created by the NDP when it governed the province from 2015 to 2019, but have since been dropped by the UCP.
“We must make economic diversification a critical priority of the work of the government of the province of Alberta,” Notley said.
“We’ve heard from the finance minister that diversification is a long-term luxury, but that’s short-sighted ambivalent thinking… We have to grab hold of the reigns and lead.”
Other proposals include creating additional child care spaces downtown, investing in mental health and addictions resources, and bringing more events into Calgary’s downtown.
Notley did not elaborate how much the plan will cost aside from the $155 million promised, but said the plan includes about $175 million in current government commitments.
She said these investments are important for Calgary’s economy because they will help transition the Alberta workforce away from oil and gas while creating jobs.
“Our economy is restructuring. It’s restructuring because tech is becoming a bigger and more important player” she said.
“We have the opportunity to work really intentionally to support the transition within our workforce… At the same time, we can support the families of those workers while they get the training to take up those opportunities.”