Calgary city council is moving ahead with the creation of a $10 million Economic Development Investment Fund in response to the downturn in the economy.
In a 14-1 vote on Monday, councillors agreed to set aside money from the so-called rainy day fund to revitalize the downtown core.
The money will be used to help strengthen existing industries, and help create new ones. City officials hope the money could be a motivator for additional private and public sector investments.
“We’re not competing well against our other big cities in Canada, let alone around the world where we really are trying to attract some of the conspicuously obvious opportunities,” Richard Pootmans, councillor for Ward 6, said.
City manager Jeff Fielding agreed that the city needs to refocus. “What most people agree today is we’re going through structural change and the old phrase ‘this too shall pass’ is not going to be the case in the future.”
A recommendation to set aside $2 million dollars, or 20 per cent of the fund for arts groups in the city, was delayed until next month.
Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart was the lone council member to vote against the investment fund. She believed the idea should have been brought forward when council debates budget adjustments in November.
“I’ve yet to be convinced that this is a good idea.”
Colley-Urquhart also worried that $10 million is just the beginning and that council will be asked for more and more money for the fund in the future.