Residents hoping to weigh in on the proposed new arena deal for Calgary have until the end of Monday to submit their thoughts.
As part of consideration of the new $550-million deal struck by the city and Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) — which owns the Calgary Flames — the city opened a week-long public feedback window.
WATCH: Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas joins Global News Calgary to discuss city council’s upcoming vote on a $550-million event centre proposal.
The deadline to submit opinions on the deal was set for Friday at noon and councillors were set to discuss and vote on the proposal on Monday.
When that vote was pushed to Tuesday, the public feedback window was also extended until Monday.
The event centre proposal would see the city and CSEC split the cost of construction 50-50.
It would also involve tearing down the iconic Scotiabank Saddledome, of which the city will pay for the majority, and the new building would be constructed on land nearby that’s currently owned by the Calgary Stampede.
WATCH: Global’s Joel Senick is joined by University of Calgary economics professor Trevor Tombe and entrepreneur and Nashville Predators owner Brett Wilson to discuss Calgary’s deal for a new event centre.
The site the Saddledome sits on would be turned into a parking lot, according to the plans.
Residents can submit their written opinions online, by fax or drop them off at city hall.
Poll shows Calgarians split on deal
A Think HQ poll released Monday showed of the residents polled, people are evenly split on whether this arena proposal is the right next step for the City of Calgary.
The poll surveyed 645 people between July 24 and 26 – just a few days after the details of the deal were announced — using an online panel.
It found that 47 per cent of respondents were on board with the proposed event centre and 47 per cent were opposed. Six per cent said they were unsure.
Calgary political scientist Duane Bratt said there is “clear majority support” for replacing the Saddledome — but on this particular deal, it’s 50-50.
“Looking at the demographics, it doesn’t seem to be a difference if you’re a man or a woman or where you live in the city, but there’s a huge difference based on household income,” he said.
“If you make more than $100,000, there’s a huge majority in favour of the arena and if you’re below $50,000, there is a huge majority against the arena, which shows who people think will benefit from it.”
The respondents opposed to the deal felt stronger than those who were in favour of the proposal. Fourteen per cent of those who supported the deal said they strongly supported it, while 33 per cent said they “somewhat approved.” Of those who didn’t like the deal, 26 per cent said they “strongly disapproved” of the deal, where 21 per cent “somewhat disapproved.”
Think HQ president Marc Henry said the decision “comes at a very precarious time for council.”
“It seems to have landed at their doorstep at a time when they can least afford it both politically and financially,” Henry said.
Is there enough time?
The majority of the respondents – 60 per cent — said there isn’t enough time for council to adequately engage with residents on the details of the deal before heading to a vote, with 34 per cent saying there “definitely” isn’t adequate opportunity.
Thirty-five per cent said there is enough time and five per cent said they were unsure.
“There are elements of the proposed deal that are actually quite popular among Calgarians,” Henry said.
“If there’s one thing that stands out as something they’re not happy with, you’ve got six in 10 saying that one week to do public consultation before making a decision is not long enough, and you even have over one third of people who support the deal in front of council right now saying that one week is not a sufficient consultation.”
Bratt said he’s surprised and pleased with the opposition on how rushed the decision is.
Council, mayor approval ratings decline
As councillors are set to vote on the proposal Tuesday, the Think HQ poll also shows the overall approval ratings for Mayor Naheed Nenshi and council overall are dipping to an all-time low compared to the last five years.
In June 2014, Nenshi had a 74 per cent approval rating with council sitting at about 55 per cent.
By June 2019, the poll shows Nenshi’s rating had dropped to 39 per cent and council sitting at 32 per cent.
Fast forward a month, Nenshi’s July 2019 approval rating sits at 35 per cent and council’s has dropped further to 23 per cent, according to the poll.
Henry said pushing the arena deal would be “risky” for council at this point, because of that even split.
“Their credibility with the public right now is awful,” he said. “You’ve got almost seven in 10 Calgarians saying they disapprove of council, so if there’s a segment of the public who feels that this council didn’t listen to them on this issue or didn’t want to listen to them on this issue, the election’s only 812 days away – they may just wait and have their revenge then.”
Henry said he doesn’t think there’s enough opposition to keep council for voting in favour of the proposal.
“The win for Calgary is that this is a major new piece of infrastructure and we get on with it,” he said.
The survey was conducted between July 26 and 26, 2019 via an online research panel using several sources. Think HQ surveyed 645 respondents and weighted the results to reflect gender, age and the region of Calgary population. The margin of error is +/- 3.9 percentage points or 19 times out of 20.
– With files from Global News’ Kaylen Small