Braid: City numbers show runaway economic and personal crisis in small business

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And it’s amazing to see new businesses still opening — not a huge number, but enough to show the entrepreneurial spirit is far from dead.

In general, though, this is a dismal, threatening period for the small business sector. And it’s made worse by the city’s own alarming fiscal picture.

The “unmitigated financial gap” — the difference between budget and real spending — is now $166 million, up from $145 million projected in April.

“Unmitigated” means there’s no city capacity for funding this shortfall.

The police service is responsible for a big portion of the fiscal gap — $12 million.

This hasn’t been updated since July and newer estimates could be worse. Any savings that can’t reasonably be found by the police, the report says, will have to come from somewhere else.

Only two money spouts can mitigate problems of this size — the provincial and federal governments.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday he has a letter from the province promising about $200 million, which presumably could be used for operating expenses.

That would cover the $166-million shortfall. In my view, a good deal of the leftover cash should be used for small business support.

But this is one-time money. The city’s severely damaged capacity to raise cash through taxes, growth and development won’t recover for years.

Small business people who keep fighting in this climate deserve our admiration and patronage. Long may they survive, and somehow thrive.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

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