Beware the Gift Horse

By , July 27, 2011 11:04 am

Downtown Arena to be funded by Pop Bottle returns

Downtown Arena to be funded by Pop Bottle returns

In today’s Edmonton Sun, they mention that the meeting between Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel was fruitful in finding a potential solution for funding the remaining $100M on the Edmonton Downtown Arena.

So where would they pulling this $100M out of? The answer is the Municipal Sustainabiity Initiative (MSI) program. According to the Municipal Affairs website, “Since 2007, Alberta’s municipalities have been allocated $3.1 billion in MSI funding. This has meant communities across Alberta have been able to build or upgrade their public transit vehicles and facilities, recreation and sport facilities, roadways and bridges, and storm sewer systems, to name a few key projects chosen locally, based on priorities.”

Things might be adding up a bit more now. About 2 weeks ago or so, I had heard a quote from Mandel saying that he wanted to temporarily stop new road repairs because it was getting difficult to drive in the city without running into construction.

The obvious argument against using the MSI program to help fund the arena is going to prevent us from spending this money on things that we need more (ex. LRT upgrades, road repairs, etc.). This program does encompass things such as sports facilities. So the city wouldn’t be wrongly using the money. However, there are many out there that would argue that this money should be spent in better ways (and I can’t say they’re wrong). I’m not certain here, but I would imagine when the funds are doled out for next year, they could stuff an extra $100M into that funding, if that’s what they wanted to do.

How do you folks feel about the new arena being funded this way? Is it a misuse of government funding? Or is it necessary and will be beneficial in the long run?

Are you OK with the city using $100M of their annual MSI funding to finance the rest of the arena?

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