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Conservative politicians blame Calgary restaurant closure on all 3 levels of government, by Robson Fletcher, Oct 27, 2017

Calgary's economy expected to be the fastest-growing of major Canadian cities in 2017

Conservative MPs and the interim leader of the United Conservative Party gathered Friday at an out-of-business restaurant in downtown Calgary to blame the municipal, provincial and federal governments for its closure.

"These are the human faces of what has really been, across all three levels of government, detrimental tax policy that has resulted in what you see here today, which is the liquidation of a long-standing 

She was joined by Calgary Rocky Ridge MP Pat Kelly and interim UCP leader Nathan Cooper at The Belvedere, a restaurant on Stephen Avenue that has shut its doors and launched a liquidation sale.

"The mountains and mountains of extra costs that are skyrocketing and are piling up on business owners and entrepreneurs, such as the drastic increase in minimum wage as well as the carbon tax and the changes federally, are punishing businesses," Cooper said.

Belvedere owner Clayton Morgan said his sales plummeted in 2015 and he didn't expect them to recover.

Given that and Alberta's ongoing minimum wage increases, Morgan said he decided to shut down the business after 19 years of operation.

"What we have here in Calgary is unfortunately, in my opinion, what we're going to have for the next three years," he said.

Restaurant sales rebound in 2017

After declining in 2016, sales at full-service restaurants across Alberta increased by three per cent in the first eight months of 2017, as compared with the same period the year before, according to data from Statistics Canada.

The full-service category includes everything from family diners to high-end bistros.

Sales at "limited-service" eateries such as fast-food joints and coffee shops have increased every year for the past 15 years and now exceed those of full-service restaurants.

Speaking at a forum on the retail industry on Wednesday, Jeremy Thal, vice-president of development and leasing at Royop Development, said government policies have made it a challenge for some businesses.

"Between [the minimum wage increase] and property taxes and business taxes … it's tough," he said. "It really, really is."

Thal also said he's seen a rebound in the local economy lately and noted many businesses are not only succeeding in Calgary — they're thriving.

"I go to the great restaurants in town and they're all pretty busy," he said.

"The not-so-good restaurants, well, they're not so good, so they're not busy. I don't care if it's a recession or not. They're just not busy. Everybody's got to be smarter and more agile."

Calgary on pace for fastest economic growth

Calgary's overall economy is expected to grow by 4.6 per cent in 2017, according to the latest forecast from the Conference Board of Canada

That's the fastest GDP growth among the 13 major cities the Conference Board studied.

Edmonton isn't far behind, with a projected GDP increase of 3.9 per cent this year.

"The worst appears to be over for Calgary and Edmonton," Alan Arcand, an economist with the Conference Board, said last week.

Edmonton and Calgary "should expect to see more moderate growth in 2018," he added.