$500 million BMO Centre expansion given official approval

Dec 18 2018, 10:27 pm

Calgary’s BMO Centre expansion project has gotten the greenlight.

City Council met and conditionally approved the project at Monday’s meeting, and on Tuesday the Government of Alberta announced that it would extend the Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) to help turn the facility into a Tier 1 convention centre.

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Currently, the 250,000 sq. ft. centre pales somewhat in comparison to the venues in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, though the new expansion project aims to double the BMO Centre’s size.

The expansion expects to create 2,250 new jobs and bring in $223 million towards Alberta’s economy, according to a Government of Alberta release, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley expects the investment to also pay off as a thriving cultural hub in Calgary’s downtown.

“East Victoria Park, which includes Stampede Park and BMO Centre, has long stood as the city’s cultural epicentre,” Notley said in the release.

“With this announcement, we are going to kick-start urban renewal in Calgary’s downtown, create thousands of jobs, and increase tourism, business development, and investment in Calgary.”

Not only with the CRL help with the expansion, but it is also expected to help funding for other projects within Calgary’s Victoria Park and East Village area, including the Jack Singer Concert Hall, Max Bell Theatre, Martha Cohen Theatre, Big Secret Theatre and the Engineered Air Theatre.

“This CRL has been one of the most successful in the world, and the new vibrancy of the East Village is testament to that,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in the release.

“Extending it for a further 20 years after 2026 will allow us to craft even better neighbourhoods, particularly south of the tracks in East Victoria Park where we are crafting a great cultural and entertainment district for Calgary.”

A new event centre has also been a key part of the discussion surrounding the BMO Centre Expansion, and a recent release from the City of Calgary has stated that City Council will further discuss funding the new event centre at a capital-intensive projects meeting on January 28,

“We must consider the development of the event centre and the BMO Centre together,” Jeff Davison, City Councillor for Ward 6 and head of the Event Centre Assessment Committee, said in the release.

“It is my belief that the build-out of the Entertainment and Cultural District is the most important investment Calgary can make in our future to have the most meaningful impact for all citizens.”

Once completed, the BMO Centre expansion would turn the building into the second largest convention centre in the country.