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Calgary resurrects the Event Centre committee to find a path to a new city arena

Calgary city council approved plans to create a new Event Centre committee to steer ahead any plans for a new arena project.

After a three-hour closed-door session, councillors approved new terms of reference for the committee and appointed five members.

The $650 million Event Centre deal collapsed at the final hour just prior to the start of 2022. Cost escalations played a role in the deal’s fate, as did an unwillingness of the city to bend on design public realm and climate aspects.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp, along with fellow Couns. Dan McLean and Courtney Walcott, were the council appointees to the committee. Sharp said she was excited to get to work and hoped for speedy work on the file.

“I think we did take a step back and took a breath for a couple of months. And now that we have the Event Centre committee going, now we have the opportunity to have those discussions,” she said.

The new committee will receive and review information from its third-party participant. That role was approved earlier this year.

They will continue to leverage some of the work that’s already been done to this point, so they aren’t starting from scratch.

“I think you can be cautious, but make sure that you keep the momentum going,” Sharp said.

“The mandate of the committee is to build on the foundation that was already created. So we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”

Event Centre committee term… by Darren Krause

Similar role to the past committee

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said this committee will fill a similar role to that of the prior Event Centre Assessment committee, chaired by then-councillor Jeff Davison.

“I think we are in really good shape,” Mayor Gondek said.

“Not only in January, did we come together unanimously as a council to say we need to move forward on seeing what an Event Center looks like in an arts and culture district, entertainment district, if you will, but now unanimously, we have appointed members to the committee that will oversee the work of administration and the third party.”

She said that this council is committed to making good economic decisions for Calgarians. That’s why Calgary Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Deborah Yedlin and Calgary Economic Development CEO Brad Parry were also included on the committee, she said.

Ward 8’s Coun. Walcott said his role is to ensure that whatever fills that space in the Rivers District anchors the East Victoria Park redevelopment.

“Then the second part about it, sometimes I think in Calgary is the most important part, it’s an effective stewardship of public money is at its core,” he said.

“The people that are going to be sitting within this space have to guarantee that whatever is being provided to the public, and the bill that is being footed to pay for it, is something that everybody can see value in.”

Coun. Sharp said she hopes the committee convenes for the first time before the end of March.