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November timeline ideal for Calgary Event Centre framework, says Coun. Sharp

The chair of Calgary’s Event Centre committee said she’s hopeful a framework for the arena project is in place by November’s four-year budget deliberations.

The Event Centre committee met Monday and delivered a short public presentation before going behind closed doors for nearly two hours.

When they returned to public, not much was shared.

During the public presentation, Planning and Development GM Stuart Dalgleish outlined the work that had been done so far.

As previously reported, a third-party team was put together and announced in May. That trio now has the name The Event Centre Visioning Group.

“Since that meeting, your city administration, along with its third party, have been continuing to undertake the steps and the work needed at this stage of our work toward a Calgary Event Center,” Dalgleish said.

Dalgleish said the third party has met with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) to get their perspective on an arena deal.  There’s been no negotiation at this point.

The group has also looked into other recent arena projects and alternative funding models. They also want to get a better sense of the city’s requirements for a new Event Centre.

Some have said that one of the breakdowns in the last deal was the regular additions of new, previously unmentioned city requirements.  That has been refuted by the mayor and administration.

Coun. Sharp said the clarity of city expectations is crucial to avoid another breakdown like December 2021. Things are being done very different to avoid that, she said.

“We don’t need anything to pop up before we’re going to cut the ribbon or anything like that,” she said.

“We don’t want another December 2021, right? So, we’re being very methodical of the stages here.”

Out of the public eye

Sharp has said since early on that she wants this new arena deal to be a transparent process.

So, why are these meetings behind closed doors?

Sharp said other members of council said they were willing to participate in the meeting Monday. They had some challenging questions for administration.  They typically talk behind closed doors on land dealings, personnel and other matters, she said, though those weren’t necessarily discussed. The answers can’t typically be shared in public.

This committee has only met four times, and this is the final meeting until September. More information is expected with work continuing over the summer. In fact, Sharp said she’s optimistic they’ll have more to present in public at that time.

“We are, behind the scenes, moving faster than I’ve ever seen administration move and the pressure is on,” she said.

“To the public, it may seem that we’re not moving quick enough because obviously government never moves fast enough.”

When asked about a specific timeline for a framework, Sharp said it was important that city council knows what projects are on the table prior to November’s four-year budget talks.

“I think in the committee’s mind, we would like a framework in place before budget,” she said.

“I would say we want something obviously concrete for deliberations.”