Town of Canmore

Budget Surplus

Why is there a surplus?

The Municipal Government Act requires the Town of Canmore to adopt an operating budget where the estimated revenues must cover the estimated expenditures. This means we can't budget for a deficit. 

But, sometimes there is a surplus at the end of the year because of unanticipated increases in non-tax revenue from fees, or greater than anticipated growth, or sometimes there has been savings in expenses. 

For example, in 2020, the Town of Canmore lost $2.6M in recreation revenue due to COVID-19 facility closures and restrictions, $1.1M of those costs were offset by reductions in recreation expenses due to closures and restrictions. Most of the operating surplus is a result of unexpected savings in general operating expenses, payroll, and supplies and energy. 

Council’s past allocation of the operating surplus has been as follows:






General Operating





General Capital










Flood Mitigation Structure Maintenance





Asset Replacement/Rehabilitation





Tax Stabilization










What happens to the surplus?

In a typical year, the surplus is often allocated to various reserves based upon established policies, financial strategy, and future business plans and strategies. However, in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented effects on our community, Council allocated used the 2020 operating surplus to reduce the tax requirement for 2021.

Reserve Funds

Canmore is sustainable only if both its capital infrastructure assets and its financial assets can be maintained over the long term. The Town of Canmore has a policy to establish reserve funds to ensure the long-term financial stability and flexibility of the Town of Canmore, to position it to respond to varying economic conditions and changes affecting the Town’s financial position, and to ensure the organization has the ability to continuously carry out its responsibilities. 

Below are some of the reserve funds held by the Town of Canmore. To read the policy and learn about the rest of the reserve funds, see the pdf Reserves Policy (2.98 MB) .


Purpose Funding Source
General Municipal Operating For working capital purposes, to provide funding for unanticipated operating expenditures in the course of providing municipal services, and for unforeseen general operating emergency expenditures.  One time transfers and one-time unbudgeted sources of revenue. 
Corporate Operating Contingency Subject to multi-year budgeting being approved by Council or required by provincial legislation, to fund unexpected or emergent operating demands that arise as a natural consequence of multi-year budgeting. Original fund established by a transfer from the general operating reserve and then annually from municipal property taxes.
Tax Stabilization To mitigate tax rate increases in cases of an emergent, non-recurring nature. One time transfers and one-time unbudgeted sources of revenue. 
General Municipal Capital To fund new capital projects or for capital expenditures necessary in cases of emergency.   Transfers from property tax revenue, unspent annual contributions to capital from operations, and one time transfers to boost reserve levels.
Asset Replacement/Rehabilitation To fund asset rehabilitation and replacement capital projects.  Transfers from annual operating surpluses, electrical franchise fees, budgeted transfers from municipal property tax revenue, and other one-time transfers to boost reserve levels.
Flood Mitigation Structure Maintenance To fund the work required to maintain flood mitigation structures, particularly after an event. Budgeted transfers from municipal property tax revenue.
Vital Homes (formerly known as Perpetually Affordable Housing or PAH) To fund the construction and operation of Vital Homes units and acquisition of land as determined in consultation with Canmore Community Housing.   Mill rate assessment on residential and non-residential sectors, and one-time transfers to boost reserve levels per Council resolution or policy.

The Town of Canmore is located within Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta. In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, we honour and acknowledge the Canmore area, known as “Chuwapchipchiyan Kudi Bi” (translated in Stoney Nakoda as “shooting at the willows”) and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Îyârhe Nakoda (Stoney Nakoda) – comprised of the Bearspaw First Nation, Chiniki First Nation, and Wesley First Nation – as well as the Tsuut’ina First Nation and the Blackfoot Confederacy comprised of the Siksika, Piikani, Kainai. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3, within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. We acknowledge all Nations who live, work, and play and help us steward this land and honour and celebrate this territory. We commit to working to live in right relations and to advance Truth and Reconciliation.

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