Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Calgary capital projects in limbo as city deals with cash shortfall

The Calgary capital projects plan needs to be examined, in its entirety, as the city continues to grapple with the aftermath of the Alberta budget, a city councillor said Monday.

City council convened an emergency meeting Monday afternoon in relation to last Thursday’s Alberta provincial budget.

In that meeting, Coun. Evan Woolley brought up concerns over the city’s ability to handle four major capital projects. City council approved the projects – the new Event Centre, the BMO expansion, the Arts Commons expansion and a new fieldhouse – in March, with a total cost of $1.5 billion. The city’s contributions for these projects will come reserve funds.

RELATED: Calgary film, TV workers ‘gobsmacked’ at cut to screen grant funding

“On those four major projects… We’ve taken ourselves to the limit of how low we can go in our FSR (Fiscal Stability Reserve),” Woolley said.

“I guess what’s the go-forward plan?”

Woolley’s question came as the city is also dealing with the province’s decision to delay funding of the Green Line LRT project until 2023. Should the project proceed, the city may be on the hook for additional interim capital costs and carrying costs.

Calgary capital projects deferred or delayed, said Nenshi

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said city council will have to look at fixing a $16 million gap created by changes to the way the province allocated police fine revenue and the increase of $15 million in provincial property tax requisition. Then they’ll get to examining capital projects.

In addition, the city’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding is also cut by nine per cent.

“That is absolutely the case that we will end up having to defer, delay or cancel capital projects,” Nenshi told councillors.

“Council’s made it clear that they want the two projects that are sort of commenced out of the four, the BMO Center and the event center, as major priorities.

“It does mean that if council is still of that view – I imagine they will be – we’ll have to look at recasting some of the capital in that way.”

Artist’s conceptual drawing of potential new Calgary Flames arena, shown at a Calgary Events Centre Assessment Committee meeting. SCREENSHOT

Later, Nenshi told reporters that the four major Calgary capital projects weren’t funded in a traditional way with the province. He said provincial budget cuts shouldn’t affect those.

Nenshi did tell councillors in the meeting that the Green Line team is going to have its work cut out for it. Woolley said these decisions shouldn’t just fall on that project.

“I think everything needs to be on the table,” Woolley said.

“And I don’t know that it’s just the Green Line committee’s role in figuring out what to do about this. I think there’s a larger council discussion about our overarching capital plan on this.”