Notley weighs in on Calgary arena proposal
Published Thursday, August 20, 2015 6:27AM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 20, 2015 12:43PM MDT
Calgary city council and the Calgary Flames administration have released details on a new arena proposal for the city, but Premier Rachel Notley says there are other priorities for Alberta before it can be considered.
Notley was in the city on Wednesday, campaigning with Calgary-Foothills candidate Bob Hawkesworth, but all the questions strayed towards the new arena proposal.
She says that her government hasn’t been approached by Ken King or the Flames administration so far and won’t be able to say yes or no until there is a formal request for funding.
On Wednesday, she told the media that there are a number of other priorities for Alberta, including building more schools, hospitals, and flood diversion measures.
“As you know, and as people in Edmonton know when we were in a position of opposition, was that provincial funding should not go to a sports arena when we’ve got other competing capital demands and I remain concerned that we have bigger priorities here in Calgary as well.”
The proposal also includes a significant cleanup of the site, which is contaminated with creosote. The estimate on the cost for that work is between $50 and $300M.
Notley says the province will be very reluctant to shell out for that cost. “Well, you know there is no question that one wants to ensure environmental remediation but we've operated in this province for many years on a principle of ‘polluter pay’. There's really no precedent for the province stepping in to pay the cost for remediation when a polluter has contaminated a piece of property.”
Ken King, president of the Calgary Flames, says that CalgaryNEXT is not going to be an easy project and it will be for the whole city, despite whether or not you can afford to attend Flames games.
"We talked to about 2,000 people over the past few days and asked how many people use the new public library - not very many. We also asked how many people, like me, thought it was a good idea to spend $200M on the building and they all said 'yes'. It speaks volumes, you don't have to be personally invested. Is this good for Calgary and Calgarians?"
King told CTV that it's important to have good infrastructure to boost tourism in the city. "If you're going to be a globally consequential city, you have to have globally consequential infrastructure."
As for the creosote contamination, King says that the issue will have to be dealt with at some point and the new arena could be the catalyst to help it, along with a traffic snarl at Crowchild Trail and the development of the West Village, be taken care of.
He says that when he has spoken with the premier, mayor, and council, they've all exhibited a great characteristic. "Let's keep an open mind and find out what's practical and what isn't. I agree with the Premier that polluters should pay. I don't know why they haven't, I don't know where they are."
As for parking at the new arena, King says there are several opportunities they can look at, including subterranean parkades and above-ground structures.
All in all, King says that Calgarians across the city are sure to enjoy the facility once it's completed. "I think people will love what it turns out to be. It's going to be very challenging and difficult. We need people to understand it and if they agree with it, advocate for it, and if they don't, they should advocate against it."