Motion to Reconsider Arena Subsidy Recap
Thanks Council for your consideration of this amendment. I want to be clear to everyone that I had no misconceptions around Council's support for this.
My objective today was to ensure that Calgarians have a very clear picture of the trade-offs in the decisions that we are making in this budget.
The public were not afforded the opportunity to do so when Council passed the arena deal over the summer holidays. I want people to understand the clear choices that Council is making. We should and will be accountable for the decisions we make.
Our job as government is to make decisions on allocating scarce resources. The resources today are scarcer than they have ever been in my lifetime.
As I have previously said, I do not want kids to grow up in a city that subsidizes the owners of NHL hockey teams, but ignores those who cannot afford a place to live or a way to get around our city.
I am at a total loss at how some members of Council can give hundreds of millions of dollars to the wealthiest individuals in our city and at the same time vote in favour of cutting services to:
- A Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter program that help women increase their safety and establish a life free of family violence and abuse or;
- The aboriginal Friendship Centres program that supports children suffering from intergenerational trauma
- The Alex food and Wellness program that helps the very poorest in our city access food.
The arena is funded by property taxes and when I think about those things that are most important and of direct benefit to Calgarians, I think about Police, Fire, Transit, Housing and support for those Calgarians who need our help the most. Funding an arena with property tax dollars and an amorphous return on investment is not our core business.
The motion before us today will move the $290 million set aside for the construction of the new arena and go instead to the following City shaping projects that will provide just as many jobs and greater direct benefit:
- $200 million towards the Green Line Project
- $45 million for the Calgary Police Services Capital Reserve
- $45 million to the Corporate Affordable Housing Reserve
We cannot rely on the province to build our city. Their provincial budget proved that by throwing our fiscal framework in the garbage. Hacking out our ability to deliver on the Greenline and reducing support to our police by one third. Finally, our stock of affordable housing, that is, the assets we own, need investment badly.
I hear Councillors referring to the Province’s much-overused phrase, “getting our fiscal house in order.” While many in Calgary are struggling to keep their homes, live safe and happy lives and even travel around our great city. Let's focus on what Calgarians are asking for, not what Edmonton wants.
Categories: Budget, City Finances, Community, Councillor, Councillor’s initiatives, Police, Transportation