The Government of Alberta has made good on a request from Calgary city council and extended the Calgary Rivers District Community Revitalization Levy for an additional 20 years, paving the way for upgrades in east Victoria Park.

“We are going to expand the BMO Centre, upgrade the Arts Commons, and revitalize the infrastructure in east Victoria Park,”  said Premier Notley during Tuesday’s announcement.

The expansion of the BMO Centre is expected to double the size of the current facility in ‘a world class city with world class expertise’ that is ‘one of the most fun, dynamic and artistic cities anywhere in the country’.

“A city like this, it should make absolute sense that we would be one of the most sought after destinations on the planet for tradeshows, conferences and more,” said Notley. “For too long now, Calgary has missed out on major conferences and the only reason is that we don’t have the physical space available that many of these conferences and tradeshows require.”

“We are here to fix that problem. We are going to create a lot of jobs and diversification in the process.”

According to the provincial government, construction of the centre’s expansion will create 1,850 jobs and the centre will require an additional 400 staff members once the expansion opens.

“Thanks to the expansion, the centre will host about a dozen more national and international shows annually and increase its revenues by a whopping 80 per cent. This investment in the BMO Centre will add about $225 million to Alberta’s GDP every year.”

The announcement comes one day after city council conditionally approved the $500 million expansion.

Cindy Ady, CEO of Tourism Calgary, lauds the move. “It’s one of the major pieces of what we are calling the destination strategy. From a tourism perspective, it’s a huge anchor especially as we think about ten major (events) a year in this city that will fill our cabs, our hotel rooms, our restaurants, our party planners. It just affects so much of our industry and it’s just a critical piece of infrastructure.”

Construction of the BMO Centre is expected to begin in early 2019.

The extension of the revitalization levy will also allow for the future transformation of the theatres and halls of Arts Commons including the Jack Singer Concert Hall and Martha Cohen Theatre and $140 million in undisclosed infrastructure upgrades in Victoria Park

With files from CTV’s Brenna Rose