Federal politicians weigh in on rink funding
Published Saturday, April 2, 2011 6:37PM MDT
Less than a week before city council is set to vote on a deal to build an arena in downtown Edmonton, candidates seeking Canadian votes are laying out what their parties would bring to the table.
The Conservatives say no Ottawa dollars would go to the arena itself, but there is a chance some funds could go to surrounding development.
"What we've said is clear - our government will not support any tax dollars going to professional sports organizations," said Edmonton-Spruce Grove incumbent Rona Ambrose.
"[If] that does go ahead and it's a priority of the city and the province to put some money into that infrastructure in developing the downtown, we would be open to that."
The Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Centre, meantime, argues if the facility meets a specific set of targets, her party may be willing to chip in.
Criteria, which would be the same across the country, includes a business plan with clear support from the private sector, a multifunctional purpose that would prevent professional sports organizations from exclusive use, and funding from all levels of government.
"You don't go funding sports owners and sports players," said Mary MacDonald.
"As I understand it, the project is still being worked out… If it meets all the criteria we would be there right now [but] it doesn't seem to have all the levels of support."
At this stage in negotiations, it appears Edmonton would not qualify for Liberal funds because the province is not publicly committing any funds to the project.
Premier Stelmach set the record straight this week when he said, "it's a private business and maybe other provincial governments are giving it consideration, but not in this province."
Lastly, ND Linda Duncan, who hopes to win a second turn as the lone orange representative in Alberta, says her party would increase contributions to city coffers, leaving local governments to make their own decisions.
"We don't think the federal government should sit back and say, ‘this is what you will develop,'" said the candidate for Edmonton-Strathcona.
"Let's get more money going to municipalities and again they will decide what are the priorities."
One councillor who will be in the highly-anticipated meeting on April 6th says the range of answers is one more component to consider as she decides which way to vote.
"It seems to differ depending on the political party," said Coun. Karen Leibovici. "I think the federal parties are going to have to decide if they are going to support [the arena] somehow."
At present, the city still faces a $100 million shortfall for the arena, which is projected to cost $450 million.
Oilers' owner Daryl Katz has pledged $100 million for the rink and negotiators believe it's possible to raise another $125 million through a ticket surcharge, and $125 million through what's called a Community Revitalization Levy – a funding mechanism that would use taxes generated from new development in a designated area around the arena to pay back part of the city's investment.
With Files from Kevin Armstrong