Alberta has long been seen as one of the best places in North America to invest and do business. Under the NDP, however, this changed – as taxes, administrative bottlenecks and red tape drove business away – hurting our province’s reputation with the international investment community in the process.
Often lost in the conversation is the effect this mismanagement at the provincial level had on our municipalities. In towns, cities and villages across Alberta, we’ve seen businesses close their doors and families pack-up and leave in search of greener pastures elsewhere. Our new government is reversing that trend and bringing prosperity back to Alberta.
Recently, we delivered on a key platform commitment to make Alberta municipalities more competitive, with the introduction of Bill 7, the Municipal Government (Property Tax Incentives) Amendment Act. If passed, Bill 7 would offer municipalities the ability to provide property tax incentives for up to 15 years. This would be one of the longest and most competitive tax-incentive timeline in North America.
Legislation like this already exists at varying lengths in other jurisdictions such as British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Louisiana and Texas. These jurisdictions have successfully used this tool to spur investment and revitalize their local economies. If passed, Bill 7 would bring the same advantage here, but with longer timelines, meaning Alberta’s municipalities could soon have a competitive edge that is second to none when it comes to attracting business and investment.
Bill 7 has already been welcomed by several important business and industry groups, like BILD Alberta, who said “we like what we see,” and Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, who said “investment attraction policies at all levels of government will enhance competitiveness and will send a signal to foreign investors that Alberta is open for business.”
We know Alberta’s local leaders know what’s best for their communities. With this legislation, we’re not telling them what to do, but simply giving them a powerful tool to attract investment, create jobs and reignite their communities. What they choose to do with that tool is ultimately up to them.
I was proud to announce Bill 7 along with Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank, who said, “such incentives are tools that can lay the foundation to create jobs and contribute to the long-term growth and prosperity of communities across Alberta.” If passed, I look forward to seeing Mayor Frank, and local leaders across the province, use Bill 7 to restore what was lost over the past four years and to realize the full economic potential of the areas they represent.
There have been some naysayers who believe offering tax incentives to business and industry to invest in local communities is unwise. Others have failed to see the close connection between incentives for business and the spin-off jobs for families. Our new government understands this connection very well and is working to ensure we have strong communities for families and businesses across the province.
Municipalities deserve the freedom and opportunity to make the choices that fit them best. I look forward to seeing Bill 7 bolster investment and economic development across our great province for a long time to come.
I am very proud to have already moved this initiative forward for our municipalities and urge you to provide me with your feedback if you have any questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kaycee Madu is Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs