Leading Calgary through economic change: six strategies to keep Calgary strong

On Tuesday, February 10, Calgary City Council received The City's plan “Leading Through Economic Uncertainty” which details Administration's strategies and actions in response to the recent economic downturn related to low oil prices – and to prepare for success in Calgary's recovery.

Presented by Action Plan manager Sarah Woodgate, and supported by City Manager Jeff Fielding and other members of City senior leadership, the clear message is that The City of Calgary is in a strong position to deliver continued services in 2015-2016, based on sound financial management, a committed workforce and projections of long-term growth. The plan outlines an approach to build on these strengths and create new opportunities for Calgarians during this time of economic change.

In particular, six strategies and 24 key actions were outlined that touched upon all aspects of City finances, operations and capital investment. Working across the entire City corporation, the following six strategies will focus The City's response and recovery as economic circumstances evolve in 2015:

  • Continue to provide service delivery to Calgarians.
  • Focus on ensuring value for money in service delivery.
  • Monitor, understand and respond to changes in City finances.
  • Proceed with strategic infrastructure investment.
  • Work with local partners and government to understand what is required in the short term.
  • Create a more resilient local economy with a focus on long-term outcomes.
  • In order to deliver these, key actions include:
    • Maintain service levels in 2015 by implementing The City's Action Plan 2015-2018.
    • Continue to focus on savings including the creation of an Investment Savings Account as well as ongoing work to find new efficiencies through zero-based revi

    Column: City serious about cutting red tape

    In my latest column for the Calgary Herald, I wrote about the success of our Cut Red Tape program. Here's what I had to say:

    Back in 2010, when I was first running for mayor, I kept hearing stories of how The City was not as customer-friendly as it should be. From the restaurant who finally received their permit to operate a patio just in time for winter to the single mum operating a home-based massage therapy business finding herself subject to humiliating inspections and onerous annual fees, many felt the city was inhibiting rather than facilitating their success.

    Since that time, we have been engaged in a massive program called Transforming Government to make the City administration more transparent and more accountable, and above all, to put the citizen at the centre of everything we do. Indeed, I often remind my City colleagues that we should be asking ourselves, multiple times a day, “how is what I am doing right now making it better for someone to live in Calgary?”

    An important part of Transforming Government has been the Cut Red Tape program, which has been operating out of my office. It's Red Tape Awareness Week in Canada, sponsored by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and as the program transitions out of my office to become a permanent part of City management, I thought it would be a good time to share some successes.

    Since launching in 2011, and with a modest investment (not quite two staff members), we've launched over 40 formal and countless informal Cut Red Tape programs, and saved Calgarians at least $12.7 million dollars (including time and money).