Week in Review – August 21, 2015: What do you think about CalgaryNEXT?
Posted on August 21, 2015 by Greg Clark
The big story this week is the proposed CalgaryNEXT sports complex. The project is an ambitious plan to clean up an under-used part of downtown and transform it into a vibrant sports hub, providing not only a new home for the Flames and Stampeders but also building badly needed public recreational infrastructure.
Which all sounds great, but it comes at a cost. An $890 million dollar cost to be exact.
At this point the specifics are lacking but the gist of the proposal is the Flames / Stampeders ownership group would cover $200 million, ask the City of Calgary to chip in $200 million for a field house (which is the #1 item on Calgary’s ‘wish list’ of unfunded capital projects), implement a $250 million ticket tax and ask the Province to authorize a Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) for a further $240 million. There is also the small matter of who pays to clean up the creosote left over from the site’s history as manufacturing facility. This could run anywhere between $50 million and $300 million.
At this point the Provincial government would only be asked to authorize the Community Revitalization Levy, which is the same mechanism used to fund the East Village development and to build the new arena in downtown Edmonton. Essentially the CRL is a program that allows the city to borrow money against future increases in property taxes in the area generated by the development. This has worked well for East Village and the Edmonton arena but each project is unique and a lot more work needs to be done before we know whether or not CalgaryNEXT will generate the tax revenue as hoped.
So far there isn’t a direct ask for provincial funding but it’s assumed at least a portion of the cleanup costs would be borne by the province.
My initial feeling is that as much as this project could benefit our city there are many higher priorities for provincial tax dollars right now. That said, if the project can be completed without provincial money I’m on board.
That’s what I think but what do you think? I want to hear from my constituents. Is it a good use of provincial tax money to support a major infrastructure project to improve the quality of life of our city and to offset the economic downturn? Or do you think there are higher priorities in Alberta? Can we do both?
You can leave your comments below or send an email to Calgary.Elbow@assembly.ab.ca.
This is by no means the last we will hear about this project and I will evaluate the information as it comes in, then make my decision based on the input of my constituents and what’s best for our city and our province.
Thanks for reading another of my weekly blogs. Have a safe (and dry) Alberta weekend!