Taxpayers Federation calls for referendum before Calgary spends tax dollars on a professional sports arena
CALGARY, AB: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling for a city-wide referendum before city council commits tax dollars to build a new professional sports arena.
“Corporate welfare is always risky, but when Calgarians are struggling in a tough economy, we deserve the right to say whether taxes should cover a pro-sports arena,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the CTF. “Calgarians have always been happy to support the Flames by buying tickets, but we should be given a say before being forced to support the team with tax dollars.”
A poll commissioned by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy shows that 50 per cent of Calgarians oppose contributing taxpayers’ money to a new pro-sports arena (46 per cent support). Many opponents indicated they strongly oppose the idea, while supporters were more likely to be “somewhat” supportive.
Calgary continues to face challenging economic times, with the unemployment rate at 7.6 per cent. City council approved a 3.45 per cent property tax rate increase for 2019, with property taxes increasing by 3 per cent in 2020, 2021 and 2022. User fees will also be on the rise, which is expected to cost the average homeowner $113 yearly. Calgary Municipal Land Corporation stated that a new arena would cost between $550 million to $600 million.
Calgarians recently rejected an Olympic bid in a referendum.
“Calgarians are tired of being hit with higher taxes so the fact that more Calgarians oppose tax dollars going to a professional arena isn’t that surprising,” said Terrazzano. “If council thinks giving tax dollars to a business is such a good deal, they should earn public buy-in through a referendum.”