Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi to Defend Alberta’s Interactive Digital Tax Credit

As the Alberta government prepares to table its new budget next month, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi will seek to restore tax relief for creators of interactive digital media.

In 2018, the previous NDP government offered a 25% incentive to attract developers, but a year later the UCP killed the credit.

On Wednesday, the city hall’s executive committee voted unanimously for the mayor to demand it in return.

“It’s about missed opportunities. If you don’t have it, it’s very difficult to attract new businesses to your municipality, when they can go to the neighboring province. They can go to British Columbia, they can go to Quebec. I think it’s important we match that,” the adviser said. Andrew Knack, who presented the motion.

“We can go to these businesses and say we’re the most affordable big city in Canada, so where better to set up your business.”

A study published last yearr determined that the value of the gaming industry has now surpassed US$300 billion following a pandemic-fueled surge, with an estimated 2.7 billion gamers worldwide.

The games sector is worth more than the film and music markets combined, driven by mobile gaming earnings and a focus on building connections during a time of pandemic physical distancing, according to Accenture’s report.

A local promoter believes Alberta is missing out on a lot of this action and wants the tax credit back as well.

“We were finally at that point where we had parity with the rest of Canada, or a level playing field and that was taken away from us,” said Trent Oster, CEO of Beamdog, based in Edmonton.

Oster’s business received that initial tax credit and said it had to lay off staff and scale back once it lost it.

“It’s so hard to compete and it’s almost more painful because we’ve had it for a short time.”

CTV News Edmonton contacted the Department of Jobs, Economy and Innovation about the story, but the minister’s press secretary Doug Schweitzer declined to comment.

Mayor Sohi and Councilors Knack, Jenniffer Rice, Erin Rutherford and Anne Stevenson all voted in favor of the motion in an attempt to recoup the tax credit.

With files from Touria Izri of CTV News Edmonton and Agence France-Presse