Friday, 3 Feb 2023

Arts Commons renos, event centre, hockey arena focus of discussions for Calgary councillors Monday

City councillors will be talking about several major civic projects on Monday, including the BMO centre, Arts Commons renovations and a new event centre and arena in Victoria Park.

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Colleen Dickson, chief financial officer and interim co-CEO of Arts Commons, says they are working with all three levels of government to get funding to renovate and expand Arts Commons in downtown Calgary.

“The vision really is about the revitalization of the existing building and adding capacity in the new building with adding venues,” she said. “We are currently at capacity in our building.  [We are] turning down about 600 groups a year that want to be in our building.”

She said the project can be “shovel ready” in about a year and any funding coming to the Arts Commons project would not compete with other projects in Calgary, like the new event centre and hockey arena.

“We actually think the three projects that are being discussed next week are very complementary to each other and they just add to the economic impact of these projects,” she said.  “It just makes sense for three projects, [in] that are very different but very complimentary in the services it will provide to Calgarians.”

Coun. Ward Sutherland disagrees. He says the city can’t handle the BMO Centre and the Arts Commons projects at the same time, as it would present a financial hardship in terms of carrying costs.

“We voted 14-1 in council to go ahead with BMO it makes sense because we do have a funding source from all three orders of government now,” he said. “None of the other projects have a funding source.  [The BMO Centre] is the only project that does, so to not to go ahead would be silly because that money has been dedicated.”

New event centre, arena talks continue to move forward

Meanwhile, discussions for the new event centre and arena are still going forward, says Coun. Jeff Davison.

“This is the critical moment in Calgary’s history,” Davison said. “The question is have we talked to the Calgary Flames and the answer is yes….we’ve had high-level talks and we continue to have those discussions with them…talks have been very productive.”

Davidson said they are “finalizing that visionary work” with the Flames, and the next step will involve releasing his committee’s economic impact study.

He said his committee will ask the council to earmark some more dollars for the project so they can keep the project on track.

“What will be looking at is what the funding source is and how [the] council can set that up so we can get into the next phase,” he said, “which would really be what we can do to go from there.”

Davison said the strategic committee will be presenting the study on Monday.

— With files from Global News’ Doug Vaessen

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