The Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC)
continues to serve our City by making our recreational life better in
Calgary. Led by an ownership group of
outstanding community and business leaders, they have brought forward their
vision for much needed sports facilities including a field house and arena in
On June 27, 2016, Council decided to refer the CSEC detailed
plans to City Administration for further discussions. I voted against this referral and support
exploring Plan B for facilities to be built at Stampede Park. My key issues on the West Village proposal
include financing and site environmental contamination challenges.
A Community Revitalization Levy (or tax increment financing
as popularized in the United States) has been a big success in East Village. Could this model work in West Village? In East Village most of the land was owned by
the City, as it is in West Village. The
proposal is for the City to invest in the necessary infrastructure (likely
roads and utilities) as it did in East Village.
In East Village, the City re-captured the infrastructure costs with the
increased tax base from the developments stimulated. In the CSEC proposal, a substantial portion
of this increased tax base revenue is being budgeted as a contribution to the
This is not only a significant financial contribution, but
also a transfer of risk to the City.
With very high downtown office space vacancy, creating a new and vital
commercial area in the West Village in my opinion is problematic, at least in
the medium term of 10-20 years.
The environmental challenges on the West Village site have
been well publicized. The creosote
problems were first addressed by the Klein Government, but to date not been
remediated. Domtar, the company which could be assigned the clean-up costs,
needs to be at the table during environmental clean-up discussions.
Council directed Administration to come back with a report
in October 2016 that will address the feasibility and cost of both a Plan A,
West Village, and Plan B, Stampede Park and upgraded McMahon Stadium. It is at
this time that we will be able to compare options, hear more public feedback,
and look at the cost-benefit of each option to make an informed decision on
what is best and feasible for Calgary.