City councillors make case for and against new arena deal
While some members of Calgary city council have opted to take every last minute to decide whether or not to sign off on a $550-million proposal to build a new arena, others are speaking out.
Several councillors have taken to social media to indicate how they intend to vote on Tuesday afternoon.
Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas says he’s weighed the pros and cons of the deal, which calls for the city and Flames to split the building’s price tag 50/50, and he thinks it’s the wrong deal for Calgary right now.
“I think it’s the Olympics all over again,” Farkas said, referring to the city’s exploration of a 2026 Winter Olympic bid.
“We have the rushed timeline, the broken promises to consult and I think it really shows that council isn’t listening to Calgarians,” Farkas said Sunday.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi took to Facebook to post a lengthy explanation about why he’s in favour of the proposed arena deal. In the post, Nenshi writes he thinks a new event centre could act as a “catalyst” to speed up development in the Rivers District.
“It won’t lead to new development by itself, but it will help some of that development get built quicker,” Nenshi’s post said.
Others have also joined in on the debate, with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce supporting the deal.
“(An event centre) will bring jobs and investment that we definitely need to see,” said chamber chair Phil Roberts.
“It allows for the revitalization for that entire district.”
Farkas says this arena debate has generated the most public response of any city issues he’s seen since taking office. He says he’s received more than 2,500 emails and calls about the deal personally.
Calgarians wanting to submit their feedback can do so until the end of the business day Monday.
Council will start debating the arena deal at 1 p.m. Tuesday.