By Mariah Wilson February 28 2019 —
Recent reports have emerged surrounding discussions between the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) and City Council for a new $600 million arena in Victoria Park to replace the Saddledome.
These back-and-forth negotiations arose after the city discovered a new funding source to uphold their share of the deal from a number of private and public partners. On Feb. 20, CBC reported that while the details haven’t been made public, Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison confirmed that this new funding would not increase property taxes for Calgarians.
“One of the things that we set out for, in terms of the event centre, was the idea of public dollar for public benefit and so from the get-go we said we can’t use property tax increases to pay for what we want. At the end of the day, we achieved that, you know, we’re really happy with the financial structure that we have and we do believe that, within the terms that we’ve set, there will be significant public benefit from public dollars,” Davison told CTV News Calgary.
CBC also reported that the $600 million doesn’t include the price of demolishing the Saddledome nor the cost of the city’s land contribution to the project.
CMLC has been a subsidiary organization of the City of Calgary since 2007 and is designed to put the Rivers District Community Revitalization Plan into action.
This plan focuses on urban renewal in both the East Village and Victoria Park. A new arena would tie into other major redevelopment plans, such as the renovation of Arts Commons in downtown Calgary and an expansion of the BMO Centre in Stampede Park.
Most Calgarians are familiar with the extensive planning and redevelopment that went into the East Village district — especially now since the grand opening of the new Central Public Library.
According to the CBC report, CMLC president and CEO Michael Brown said at a city council committee meeting that the same level of care went into the planning of Victoria Park through public consultations and the work of several contractors.
Brown added that he thinks if the arena project is put on hold, along with any of the other proposed major projects, the Victoria Park redevelopment plan will take 30–40 years instead of 10–15 years and the city will lose tax revenue.
Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas held a town hall in Ward 11 on Feb. 21 at the Acadia Recreation Complex because he was concerned there hasn’t been enough public input before the deal is finalized. Over 100 people were in attendance. People expressed similar concerns over funding and use of their tax dollars, but others recognized it as a valuable venue that generates revenue and a suitable replacement for the Saddledome.
In a statement to Global News, Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal said that he’s happy to share any updates and communicate with the public, but that there isn’t enough information to release yet.
“I still think there’s a lot of work to do before we can have those discussions with the public with the facts in place,” Chahal said.
This deal was discussed by council on Feb. 26. After a lengthy meeting, they voted to postpone further discussion to March 4. It wasn’t immediately clear when more details would be released to the public.