Calgary city councillors have voted to move forward with four major projects after a marathon debate at city hall on Monday.
The closed-door meetings took 13 hours and concluded with a funding strategy approved for the expansion of the BMO Centre, renovations to Arts Commons, a new event centre and hockey arena in Victoria Park, and a new field house.
Although council voted 11-4 in favour of the funding strategy, details on where the money comes from remain confidential and haven’t been released.
Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley was one of those who voted against the funding strategy.
“I wanted to undertake all of these projects. I think we need a new arena, the convention centre is an incredible project, the field house is something that’s been on our unfunded list for years, and everybody knows that the Arts Commons needs work,” he explained. “That said, we cannot, in a financially responsible way, undertake all of these.”
“I am deeply concerned that council’s approval of all of these four projects completely knee-caps our financial capacity as an organization, severely limits our liquidity to undertake other projects that are of significant importance to council, and will leave us in a bad financial position.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who voted in favour of the funding strategy, doesn’t hold the same stance as Woolley.
“It does not leave the city over extended,” Nenshi said. “I wouldn’t support it if it did. It leaves the city very extended. It really does take us to very close to the limit of where I feel comfortable”
Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison, who voted in favour of the funding strategy, said council has set “a lot of terms and conditions” to use the money and move the projects forward.
It’s expected more information on where the money for the approved funding strategy comes from will be released when council meets again on March 18.
— With files from Blake Lough