CALGARY (660 NEWS) – It appears the Calgary Flames and City Council are closing in on a deal for a new arena.
Several reports have come out saying the two sides will discuss a proposal behind closed doors on Monday afternoon.
That meeting will come on the same day that council decides where to cut $60 million from it’s budget in tax relief for local businesses.
At this point, Mayor Naheed Nenshi is remaining tight-lipped about this possible agreement.
“I am hopeful there will be some stuff to talk about with the public on Monday,” he said.
Since this tentative deal comes at the same time the city looks at making some service cuts, Nenshi noted this is a bit of a challenging position to be in.
“In times of limited public budgets, it’s got to be a good deal for Calgary and it’s got to have that public benefit. So, that is ultimately the criteria on which I would evaluate any proposed deal,” Nenshi said.
At the same time, he said is crucial to provide relief to businesses crippled by rising taxes — which is the reason these cuts are coming.
“It is absolutely necessary for us to be able to protect those small businesses who, through no fault of their own, have seen these massive tax increases that in some cases are putting their viability and their survival at risk,” added Nenshi. “It’s also important to remember that we saw it coming. That City Council had many, many, many, many options before that would not have led to such drastic action.”
The news isn’t sitting well with Franco Terrazzano with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. He said council has to rethink its priorities.
“Can you imagine that in the last few days there’s been talks of potential cuts to low income transit passes and now we’re talking about a possible multi-million dollar deal for the Flames owners.”
A new arena would reportedly cost in the $600 million range, but we’re not sure what portion the city is prepared to pay.
“Tickets, not taxes, should be paying for a new professional hockey arena in Calgary,” Terrazzano said.
Nenshi also would not elaborate on how the city can justify cutting millions of dollars from essential services like police and fire, along with transit services crucial for disabled people, while at the same time possibly putting public money into an arena and event centre.
“What a great question,” Nenshi said. “To be addressed if that is actually what is happening on Monday.”
Flames president and CEO Ken King provided a brief comment Friday afternoon.
“I apologize for not being able to provide more insight into the process but for the record we defer to the City Event Centre Committee for comment.”
660 NEWS has contacted several councillors for comment.