Edmonton city council approves final arena funding model

EDMONTON – In a vote of 10 to 3, Edmonton city councillors have voted to pass the Downtown Arena Capital Profile Approval; a decision that will see a new arena built in the downtown.

The motion voted on Wednesday sees the project funded by:

–          A transfer of $25 million in budget for arena land from Capital Project Profile

–          Financing of $541,811,000 through debenture debt ($279,000,000 from Community Revitalization Levy and other City incremental revenues, $125,000,000 from ticket surcharge on hockey and non-hockey events held at the arena, $137,810,000 from lease revenue for the arena)

–          $23.69 million in third party funding ($25 million from the provincial Regional Collaboration Program, and $7 million each from the province and the federal government).

“I’m pleased that this is going to pass,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel after all councillors had spoken.

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Voting in favour of the deal were councillors Ben Henderson, Don Iveson, Amarjeet Sohi, Karen Leibovici, Kim Krushell, Bryan Anderson, Ed Gibbons, Dave Loken, Jane Batty, and Stephen Mandel.

Councillors Kerry Diotte, Tony Caterina, and Linda Sloan voted against the arena deal.

“This is more of a Frankenstein monster,” said Councillor Diotte of the deal, comparing it to the original framework. “People are truly furious about this.”

“Of course there’s risk to everything,” said Councillor Loken, “but if you don’t take risks, you don’t grow.”

He did admit the process has been a long one.

“Thank god we’re almost at the finish line,” Loken added.

Councillor Iveson, who has not voted in favour of several arena motions recently, voted in favour of the deal this time, saying since this was the final vote, he couldn’t hold out any longer in the hopes of changing the deal.

Part of what allowed him to support the motion, he said, was the motion to replace the funds coming from MSI with funds coming from the CRL.

During Wednesday’s special council meeting, council heard a recommendation from Simon Farbrother that sees the Katz Group putting up an additional $15 million and the city putting up an additional $15 million from Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) funds.

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Simon Farbrother explains the extra $15 million put in by the Katz Group (or the Edmonton Arena Corporation) would be supplied in cash during the construction of the project.

Councillor Amarjeet Sohi also put forward an amendment to the motion that would see $45,000 no longer come from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding, and instead use more CRL revenue.

Therefore, MSI funding would be channelled back to other infrastructure projects.

Several councillors spoke out in support of Sohi’s amendment, saying they are much more comfortable using funds that cannot be used for other projects.

The amendment passed unanimously.

The Downtown Arena Capital Profile Approval outlines third party funding will contribute $23 million, the province’s Regional Collaboration Program will cover $25 million, and the province of Alberta and the federal government will provide $7 million each.

The Regional Collaboration Program funds were discussed in a Capital Region Board meeting last week.

Read the full documents being discussed at city council below (NOTE: the MSI portion was reassigned to CRL):

Downtown Arena Capital Profile Approval

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City of Edmonton Bylaw 16433

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