Calgary Councillor wants arena deal reconsidered in wake of budget cuts

Nov 28 2019, 10:13 am

Calgary’s new $550-million arena — a deal that took years in the making and was reached in July with the City of Calgary and the Calgary Flames each paying for 50% — is back on the city council’s radar.

Following budget shortfalls as a result of the slashed provincial government’s 2019 budget, council is scrambling to find ways to ensure that the city’s most expensive service, the police force, isn’t hit by devastating cuts, and to make up for funding that was cut for many projects throughout the city.

Councillor Evan Woolley is looking to the $290 million in public dollars that would be spent on the arena as a possible avenue, given that another large Calgary project, the long-awaited Green Line, is also in danger of funding shortfalls.

Woolley stated on Twitter on Wednesday that he would be putting forward a motion asking council to reconsider the arena deal and to channel much of that funding into the Green Line.

“Council has said everything is on the table. We can’t, in good conscience, move forward with significant cuts to the budget without reconsidering the arena deal. $290 million to the Flames in this economic climate is irresponsible and shortsighted,” Woolley wrote.

“My motion will move to redirect the $290 million in public funding earmarked for a new arena to the construction of the critical city-shaping Green Line transit project, a much-needed downtown police station, and badly needed affordable housing.”

Council has been hashing out the city’s budget over the past week, and the meeting that will see this motion is currently in session as of Thursday morning.

“I don’t want children to grow up in a city that prioritizes subsidies for NHL team owners, but ignores those who can’t afford a place to live or a way to get around our city.”