Edmonton business leaders against proposed tax hike

Those in Edmonton’s business community are asking the city to reconsider a proposed tax hike, saying business are still recovering from the pandemic.

Ahead of municipal budget deliberations and a proposed 7 per cent property tax increase — Edmonton’s downtown business leaders say now is not the time for businesses to pay more.

“Some of them are just ready to capitalize on the new opportunities, and I don’t want to see us lose any more small businesses as we did through the pandemic,” explained Doug Griffiths, President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

Griffiths says that things are starting to trend in the right direction in terms of crime, safety, and people in the area. Edmonton’s downtown businesses are still dealing with the reverb of the pandemic. 

He adds that instead of raising property taxes, he’d like the city to offset budget increases in part by using dividends from Epcor — as well as the city focusing on funding core services and beautification — instead of taking on social services that should be funded by other levels of government

“I think people at the City are taking on more than they probably should, and filling some gaps left by some levels of government and it’s a very noble cause and a very noble purpose. But we have to get back to doing what the city is supposed to do and that’s building an amazing city with a prosperous citizenry. “

While Griffiths stresses those programs are crucial, he says the city shouldn’t be duplicating services provided by the province. 

At last week’s police commission meeting, members of the Healthy Streets Operations Centre — which pairs EPS officers with social workers — have said they have seen a decrease in the amount of crime in the area they patrol in the city’s core. 

On the provincial front, Premier Danielle Smith spoke to the media Monday and said the province is looking at how they can help Edmonton’s downtown.

“The work we’re doing with Edmonton Police in helping to police some of the public disorder is really important. Finding a new home for Boyle Street, as well, that’s also another area that we’ve been assisting the agencies in doing,” said Smith.

Budget talks begin Tuesday at City Hall.

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