Mayor wants decision on arena project soon
The mayor is now calling for a decision to be made on the proposed downtown arena project in a little more than a month. The comments come after city council received an update on the negotiations between the city and the Katz Group on the project.
City staff believe they have a funding model that could work for the project, but Mayor Stephen Mandel is asking for more information on how exactly the city could pay back any money it borrows to build a new arena.
Mandel says the process at city hall has hit too many roadblocks and is frustrated with the current update provided by city staff.
"It's enough already. I think we're going around too many circles and let's make a decision," he said.
And he wants a decision on the issue by next month.
Councillors spent most of Wednesday morning discussing a new report that updates the negotiations.
But Mandel argued the report contained no new information.
"It was not a very worthwhile report, it said nothing to us," he said.
The Katz Group issued a response to Mandel's comments saying:
"We would certainly welcome this process moving forward with a greater sense of urgency."
But some councillors say they still have plenty of unanswered questions.
"I think we have to make sure we have all the information. I think there there's some real questions about risks that we don't have the answers to yet," said City Coun. Ben Henderson.
Right now, the suggested plan for building a new arena involves $100 million from Daryl Katz and borrowing $250 million.
The city could raise $250 million through a combination of a facility fee and a Community Revitalization Levy (CRL), with $125 million coming through each option.
The CRL would require the city borrow the money and then pay off that debt by increasing tax revenue, which would hopefully be generated by development surrounding the arena.
"Either we build a new arena or we become a second class city, which in my mind I don't wanna be," said Mandel.
Mandel says it's time for a decision to be made.
"I think the time has come to make a decision one way or the other."
And while opinions range on whether the city should go ahead with the project, some believe the decision is obvious.
"I think it should go ahead. I mean we really need a new arena," said resident Francis Pallier.
"We're a big city so we gotta start thinking a little big here," he added.
More details on the proposed arena is expected at a meeting at the end of March, but the majority of details from city staff, and possibly a final vote, will happen on April 6th.
With files from Bill Fortier