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Hundreds rally as city council discusses budget cuts, arena deal

Last Updated Jul 22, 2019 at 11:47 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Nearly 300 people rallied at city hall Monday morning to voice concerns over an arena proposal and budget cuts.

The group is demanding council maintain funding for subsidised transit passes and the mental health and addiction strategy.

One of the demonstrators Karen said councillors should take a hard look at their expenses, perks, and benefits.

“That they’re getting on the taxpayer dollar. Pensions, number one! We’re paying five-to-one on city pensions, they’ve all got golden pensions, some of them have two or three pensions. There are people in this city that haven’t worked for four years.”

Calgary city council is expecting to learn more on Monday about a tentative deal to build a new NHL arena.

It’s not clear yet what the city’s commitment would look like or how much public money is at stake.

Economist Moshe Lander thinks using any public money to build an NHL arena would be a bad deal for taxpayers.

“Arenas never pay for themselves,” said Lander. “That’s not just here in Calgary, that’s in any city.”

Lander said replacing the ageing arena should not come at taxpayer’s expense.

“The fact is, the Saddledome is old. It does need to be replaced,” Lander said. “The issue is how much public money should be used. I’ve said time and again that you don’t use public money to finance arenas.”

READ MORE: City Council and Flames close to arena deal: reports

Lander thinks a regional rivalry is driving much of the pro-arena move.

“Calgary wants a new arena with public funds in part because Edmonton got a new arena a few years ago.”

Karen disagrees with using public money for a new arena, believing that the city is just throwing money away.

“People are suffering and this council is spending money like it’s going out of style. This new arena, this council has no business spending money on that new arena.”

Sportsnet’s Eric Francis said there’s a bit of information about where the arena would be built.

“I can tell you it’s under $600 million to build,” said Francis. “I can tell you it’s hundreds of meters from the (Saddledome.)”