I am pro arena. But I am against the way this project has been managed. When public funds are involved, it’s vital that there are clear lines of accountability. Two years after we thought we had a deal, it is obvious that we still do not have a defensible scope and budget.
We are not seeing the accountability that is to be expected when spending public dollars. We have only had excuses that overruns are solely caused by inflation.
The deal was rushed through Council—seemingly on the back of a napkin without a proper cost estimate and certainly without due diligence. We need to see the cost estimate from when the deal was approved, and the cost estimate from today.
The project’s scope wasn’t clear, and I’m concerned that the city’s interest has not been protected. Particularly, two Councillors jockeying for the Mayor’s Chair—Jeff Davison and Jyoti Gondek—have been more focused on having their names attached to a popular project than on good governance and protecting Calgarians’ interests.
I would like to see the project come back to Council on July 26th with a full reporting of the project scope and an attached budget estimate based on a locked functional plan. Street level retail, restaurants, and bars—essential to creating a vibrant neighbourhood centre with spaces for people to go before and after events—must not be cost engineered out. We must avoid what happened in Edmonton: the full removal of all street level retail to save money.
I am pro arena, but when public funds are involved, there are higher standards of accountability. These standards have not been met under the current project management.