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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7 Responses to “Beware the Gift Horse”

  1. chucker says:

    If it helps improve access via LRT, upgrades the sewers and inlays the utilities, then it is worth it as that is what they need help on and those things are capital project and infrastructure that are permanent. Just get it done already.

  2. Steve-O says:

    The way I see it is why not just put the $250 mil towards downtown. Fix up the infrastructure, zone it for the condo’s/mall/casino that will actually bring people down there year round (instead of just the 41 times), bring the lrt up there etc.

    Why give Katz tax money to make it easy for him to make more money?

    All the other Canadian cities (minus Calgary) are privately funded (and it’s not like those rinks have made their area’s prime real estate).

    Count me in the No column.

  3. Racki says:

    I think I would tend to side with Steve-O here.

    However, just call it what it is.. helping Katz and the Oilers out. I am not expecting the arena to revitalize downtown at all, myself.

    That said though, I would like to see either Rexall Place receive a major overhaul that brings it up to modern standards, or would like a new arena built. I just don’t think that using this MSI money is really is as pure as they’d like us to believe. If Katz and co use $100M of that towards a new arena, that’s $100M less infrastructure money for repairs to roads, fixing the LRT, etc., etc.

    I won’t lose any sleep over that money going to the new arena, because I’d love to have a new arena here. But it almost seems like Stelmach’s “strict legislation” of not helping supporting businesses is being circumvented here. Almost like it’s a semantics thing. “OK.. you can have the money, but we can’t say that the province is funding it.. it has to fall under this special fund instead”.

    Anyways, I’m in the “just get it done already” class. That $100M could be better spent, but I will turn a blind eye for a bit.

  4. Bostonoiler says:

    Get it done. It would help downtown. Let me use the example of The New Endlgand Patriots new joint, Patriot Place. People went to Foxboro Mass 8 times a year, maybe more pending playoffs and thats it. With the new hotels, shopping malls, stores, resturants, movie theaters, etc., people now visit it year round.

    I think if that is the idea Katz has in mind, then they need to get it built ASAP. It will help the city. If they get the new arena up, it will help Edmonton transform itself, and hopefully influence other city projects down the road to help make downtown a better place.

    Just my 2 cents on it…

  5. Bostonoiler says:

    Anything new on this topic?

  6. Racki says:

    There was an article in the Edmonton Sun saying that Katz group was considering Enoch now as a location. Enoch is an Indian reserve on the western outskirts of Edmonton. There’s a huge casino out there right now. I kind of think this is just more b.s. to try to speed negotiations up.

  7. chucker says:

    Yeah, especially with all the downtown land that Katz owns. It is prudent business though to look at the option even if it is not what you really want.

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