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Arena parking lot part of a land exchange between the city, Calgary Stampede

The parking lot that flared up controversy over the city’s Events Centre deal was explained to councillors Monday.

The question was raised in question period at Monday’s strategic meeting of council by Coun. Jeromy Farkas.

Farkas said the arena deal was supposed to be transparent.

“It should be relatively straightforward to disclose the funds involved. How much is this project costing taxpayers?” Farkas asked.

Here’s the city’s explanation on the parking lot:

The site of the future Events Centre is owned by the Calgary Stampede and used for Stampede parking, said Stuart Dalgleish, the City of Calgary’s General Manager of Planning and Development.

The city and the Calgary Stampede entered into a land exchange so the city owns the Events Centre lands and the Stampede will eventually own the Saddledome lands, Dalgleish said.

The future Events Centre lands are being used currently for parking. Once construction begins, they won’t, Dalgleish said.

“One of the key terms of the land exchange agreement between the city and the Stampede was for the city to help facilitate temporary parking on privately-owned lands for commercial operation by the Stampede, during the BMO Center and Event Center construction period,” Dalgleish told councillors.

Calgary city council formally approved the $550 million Events Centre deal in July 2019. The nine agreements were released after the documents were signed in December.  

The project is now paused as the sides work out budget concerns and facility improvements.

The land agreement was included in the 2019 Events Centre disclosure, but the parts related to the private lands (that third party wasn’t involved in the negotiations) were redacted.

Dalgleish said they’re current trying to work with the private owner and the Calgary Stampede for permission to release the full version of the agreement.

Cost for the lot construction

Dalgleish said they aren’t privy to the lease agreement between the Calgary Stampede and the private party. He said he believes the Calgary Stampede will receive the parking revenue.

Even though the Events Centre is paused, they can’t pause construction on the parking lot, Dalgleish said.

It would result in unsafe conditions on the site and more costs for remobilization of crews.

Under the land exchange agreement, the city was on the hook for the development permit and satisfying all the conditions. These included: A temporary gravel parking lot, consultants and construction for 1040 stalls.

The cost of the parking lot project is between $1.3 million and $1.5 million.