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Calgary councillor wants engagement period on new arena extended

Last Updated Jul 25, 2019 at 5:44 pm MDT

Artist's concept of Calgary Events Centre (CREDIT: Rosetti, City of Calgary)

After a tentative deal was reached on Monday, Calgarians were given until Friday afternoon to submit their thoughts

Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley wants public engagement stretched to September

Arena deal involves $275 million in public money, and Councillor Woolley says more time is needed to examine details

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — The clock is ticking on Calgarians hoping to get their thoughts across on the proposed arena deal.

On Monday, a tentative agreement was announced between the City of Calgary, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Group and the Calgary Stampede on a replacement for the aging Saddledome.

The deal includes $275 million of public money being spent, to build the new arena on Stampede Park which would come at a total cost of $550 million.

Council is set to make a decision on the deal on Tuesday, leaving residents until Friday afternoon to get their opinions added to the public record.

At least one councillor says that is not long enough, and is asking for an extension.

“One of the things that I’ve been hearing and many people have been hearing and talking about, is the one-week engagement process, the one week due diligence for council, is just not long enough,” said Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley.

Woolley has sent a letter to administration, asking the negotiating team to request Calgary Sports and Entertainment to allow for the process to be extended until September 30th.

Event Centre Letter to City Manager July 25, 2019

The councillor said that since this deal was proposed in the “dog days of summer”, there’s a high likelihood citizens are too preoccupied with other things to get into the finer details of the agreement.

“Why one week when we’ve got $60 million in budget cuts, we’ve got the Green Line, we’ve got a number of issues. And frankly, when most Calgarians are out on vacation — as they should be — has come across very badly and seems like a very poor strategic decision.”

Woolley also noted that he and his colleagues need more time as well.

“The one-week turnaround was an active disclusion both for members of council who first learned about this, but also for citizens (with whom) it is our duty and responsibility to engage with,” he said.

Woolley believes this short timeframe is disappointing, and it would be prudent for everyone involved to have the proper opportunity to review everything.

He is hoping the extension will be granted before council is set to meet on Tuesday afternoon, with a better plan presented at the September 5th meeting of the Event Centre Assessment Committee, and then a final vote on a council meeting at the end of September.