Calgary Minute: New Arena, Budget Cuts, and Green Line Debate

Calgary Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Calgary politics.

This Week In Calgary:

  • After one week of notice and no time for proper consultation, Council is set to force a vote on the Arena deal on Tuesday at 1:00 pm. The City's updated estimate projects a $47 million dollar loss on the deal. This does not include any major repair costs, for which taxpayers will be 100% liable. It also doesn't cover any cost overruns which, it was revealed on Friday, will also be 50% covered by taxpayers.

  • With the vote being pushed back to Tuesday, public submissions can now be made online, or by email (publicsubmissions@calgary.ca) until the end of business today. Unfortunately, many details are still not available to the public, making a proper financial analysis of the deal impossible. For example, the City is using an unrealistic Cost of Capital Rate which likely artificially inflates the benefits of the arena by only comparing the project's returns to a low-interest savings account, rather than a more realistic alternative. Similarly, we don't know the Discount Rate the City is using, which means the City's figure for the present value of future cash is probably underestimated, which would make the projected loss far more than $47 million.

  • Other than the Arena deal this week, Council will hear another update on the Green Line at the Council Meeting on Monday, and there is a Business Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

 

Last Week In Calgary:

  • Last Monday, City Hall attempted the Guinness World Record for doublespeak, as Calgarians were told that Emergency services, low-income transit services, and affordable housing would all need to be cut in order to find the $60 million required to lower this year's enormous business tax increases.  

  • Then, on Tuesday, Council released the details of a more than a quarter-billion-dollar wealth transfer from taxpayers to billionaires in the form of a new arena deal. Apparently, the Guinness World Record people are still conferring, but we hear it went quite well.

  • Finally, despite the rush, we took the time to consult with you, our supporters, on the new arena deal and the results are in. A clear majority (62%) of you think that Calgary needs a new arena, but opinions were mixed on how it should be funded. 58% of you agree that the Council should provide free or discounted land, but the majority were opposed to any other type of support, with only about a third of you supporting providing Cash (34%), a 0% or low-interest loan (34%), or property tax discounts or exemptions (33%). Thank you to the huge number of Calgarians who participated. We'll keep the survey open in case you missed it and still have comments you'd like to send in.


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