Calgary municipal budget debate reignites criticism over funding of new arena
Some councilors in Calgary have expressed concern that they green-lit a new hockey arena at a time of economic
As Calgary City Council wades through its options to address cuts to its operating budget, some within chambers are questioning the deal for a new events centre.
The capital project was approved by council in July, and funding is not currently being debated.
Friday Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley tweeted “I'm concerned about cutting essential services to all Calgarians in favour of giving money to billionaires.”
Replacing the Scotiabank Saddledome is part of an approved project to revitalized Victoria Park with public spending matching the $275 million contribution from the Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation.
“We have the majority of council supporting this deal. It is a council-approved deal, it has been financially supported by council this project is moving forward,” said Councillor Jeff Davison, Ward 6.
“At this point to start raising the flag that somehow our capital budget and operating budget should be conflated to cause confusion is frankly disingenuous by some of my colleagues.”
Other critics continue to call for the arena plan to be removed.
“There's no reason in the best of times for council to rubber stamp hundreds of millions of dollars for owners of the Flames, but especially during these challenging times it's reckless," said Franco Terrazzano of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Political watchers say this type of sentiment will continue to pop up no matter which project is being debated.
“You are going to hear every cut that the city makes. ‘Oh and we're giving a rink to the Flames. We may be pausing the Green Line, but oh, and we're giving a rink to billionaires, we're shutting down pools, oh and we're giving rink to flames,” said Mount Royal University professor Duane Bratt.
Both Councillor Woolley and the CSEC did not return request for interviews.
City Council resumes budget deliberations on Monday and is expected to run through the week.