First thoughts on CalgaryNEXT
The Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation has presented an interesting concept to Calgarians. I, like many others, am interested in discussing the opportunity to have a new field house, football stadium and hockey arena. At the start of this debate, here are a few comments and observations.
The City has a rigorous process to priorize major public projects. For example, The Route Ahead provides City Council with a 30 year plan for public transit capital investment. Similar infrastructure investment priority plans are in place for most business units, from parks to recreational facilities. It is from that process that the field house is ranked highly as a needed facility, but not yet scoring well enough to qualify for funding.
Amongst the questions I have are what the funding principles will be for the community revitalization levy. In East Village, tax money was used to improve the services and infrastructure on City owned land. The City now has higher property tax revenue in the area through increased assessments from new developments. If the proposal is to have the City invest significant funds (approximately $160 million was invested in East Village) in West Village infrastructure and then have the $240 million in increased taxes assigned to this proposed sports project, then I would find this to be a challenging investment deal for taxpayers.
I was fortunate to be in a presentation from Mr. King with many long standing season ticket holders for the Stampeders and Flames games. There seemed to be a consensus that, since they would be significant beneficiaries of the new facilities (especially the football fans!), that they should pay a ticket tax. A key question is who will finance these revenues over the next decades to provide the needed $250 million today.
Generally, I would support public investment in new professional sports facilities to the extent that taxpayers perceive a public benefit. The City contribution could be land – especially for the field house. There have been precedents for the City contributing land for major public projects and I look forward to your thoughts in an engaging debate.
While a formal application has not been received by The City, you can be assured that there will be significant public engagement surrounding this proposal. Council will continue to work with all stakeholders including the various levels of government to determine whether this project is in the best interest of all Calgarians.
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Again, thank you for your valuable input on this proposed undertaking.
Councillor, Ward 6
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.