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NEXT Steps for Calgary

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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 West Village.

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 proposed facilities. 

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.

 
 
 

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