DEFINITION of 'Calgary Dollar'

A local currency used in Calgary, Canada. Calgary dollars are part of an initiative to encourage consumers to shop locally, to personalize economic transactions, to foster a sense of community and to increase local self-sufficiency/bioregionalism. Because it is not intended to replace the Canadian dollar, but rather to function alongside it, the Calgary dollar is considered a complementary currency. It is not possible to earn interest by saving Calgary dollars; they are meant to be spent.

Formerly known as a Bow Chinook Hour.

BREAKING DOWN 'Calgary Dollar'

A nonprofit group called the Arusha Centre founded the Calgary Dollars program in 1996 and has operated it ever since. Consumers and merchants must sign up to participate. Calgary dollars are plastic bills that come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 dollars. They can be used to buy all the basics, like food, clothing and transportation as well as arts and leisure items. Calgary dollars are essentially a barter system. The system is legal and businesses pay taxes on the Calgary dollars they earn.

Participating local merchants can choose to accept Calgary dollars for 25% to 100% of the price of their goods and services. A customer might pay for a $20 purchase with $5 in Calgary dollars and $15 in Canadian dollars at a business that accepts 25% Calgary dollars.

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