The idea of CalgaryNEXT has hit a major roadblock.
A report going to city council on Monday says the contentious project “is not financially feasible solely relying on community revitalization levy funds.”
The report goes on to say that the West Village is not an ideal location because the remediation work needed to clean up the creosote contamination.
The dollar figure is also put into question, as the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation claimed the bill would be $890-million, but when you factor in the land and needed infrastructure, the city estimates it to be somewhere between $1.753-billion & $1.827-billion.
The report also says impacted organizations which the city talked to were supportive of a new facility, but many agreed the West Village wasn’t the best option and that maybe it should be around Stampede Park.
In an interview with News Talk 770 last month, CSEC President and CEO Ken King alluded to an idea that a “Plan B” might be possible, but it wasn’t something they were contemplating when first developing the CalgaryNEXT idea, adding he was open to that discussion.
Following a committee meeting on Wednesday, Councillor Druh Farrell said she wasn’t surprised about how much the project value was, and believes there won’t be an appetite by taxpayers to shell out more cash.
“I think it’s just the start of a conversation,” Farrell told reporters. “The principle of public dollars goes to public benefit of course is really a fundamental one and so they will have to look at sharpening their pencil.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi released a statement on the report late-Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t comment further on it until Monday’s meeting:
Today, your City Council received a detailed report on the feasibility of the CalgaryNEXT project proposed by the Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC). This is a thorough expert report and I am pleased to share it with you. City Council will discuss this report on Monday, April 25, and we will make decisions on the recommendations at that time.
I know many Calgarians are looking for a better arena space, but this is just one option.
This report explains that there are significant challenges with the current proposal including:
- the overall cost ($1.8 billion),
- the cost to taxpayers ($1.3 billion),
- the timeline for environmental remediation (completed by 2022 to 2026), which must be completed prior to development; and
- the revenue from a Community Revitalization Levy ($345 – $435 million over 20 years).
I’ve always said: public money must be used for public benefit and Council will have a robust discussion about this on Monday. City Administration has also identified a potential alternative for Council’s consideration that may accomplish the same objectives, but at a lower cost.
My colleagues at The City of Calgary and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation have done an excellent job answering Council’s many questions. This report gives us a much better understanding of how we can remediate the creosote contamination in the area of West Village so that we may eventually redevelop one of Calgary’s future great communities.