Taxpayers Federation slams Calgary council for ramming through arena deal
CALGARY, AB: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation slammed Calgary council for ramming through the nearly $300 million arena deal after consulting the public for only one week in the middle of summer.
“We finally know how to get things done at city hall,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “Turns out all you have to do is become a wealthy owner of a professional hockey team and city council will bend over backwards to meet your demands. Could you imagine if the Flames’ owners made a stink about soaring small business taxes and shops closing their doors? Would council have fumbled that file for years?”
Calgary council approved a nearly $300 million deal to build the Flames a new arena. Council saw the arena deal for the first time on Monday, July 22, and allowed only a week for Calgarians to analyze the deal and provide feedback. A number of relatively minor city initiatives have received greater public scrutiny than this nearly $300-million arena deal, including:
- Design and cost options to improve the walking and biking experience on 42 Ave S.E. (parts of June and July open for online consultation with a “what we heard report” made available in August);
- Potential changes to the city’s smoking and vaping bylaw (three weeks);
- Potential single-use items waste reduction strategy (two weeks), and;
- Bike sharing pilot program (nearly a full month).
While Calgary councillors are only allowing one week for public consultation, citizens in places such as Dallas, New York and Arizona were able to vote before tax dollars were used to build a professional arena.
“The transparency and consultation on this project has been a complete failure,” said Terrazzano. “Council should be ashamed of themselves for ramming through a $300 million deal for the owners of the Flames largely behind closed doors and during the dog days of summer.”
A number of Canadian cities are home to NHL teams that built their arenas without relying on taxpayer handouts, such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa.
“Calgarians shouldn’t be forced to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars to the wealthy owners of a professional hockey team, especially when other Canadian teams built their own arenas,” said Terrazzano. “We all want to support the Flames but with tickets, not taxes.”