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Councillors want new fieldhouse added to federal, provincial budget requests

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said the city has $90 million waiting to be used for the project.

Two Calgary city councillors said funding for a new multi-sport fieldhouse should be added to federal and provincial budget asks for the upcoming year.

Councillors on the city’s Intergovernmental Affairs committee reviewed the pre-budget submission drafts prepared for the 2023 budget year. Drafts for both federal and provincial budgets were fleshed out for approval.

The budget submissions were largely aligned in content, focusing on transit, affordable housing, climate/flood mitigation, downtown revitalization and mental health and addictions help. The federal budget submission also requested that the federal Futures Fund be used to help Calgary’s transition into a centre for clean technology.

The provincial one also included suggestions for municipal finance reform. Previously, Premier Danielle Smith said she’d like to see cities keep all of the municipal property tax generated within their borders.

Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian said the city should also be explicit in asking for fieldhouse funding. Mian was made chair of the Foothills Athletic Park Redevelopment Assessment Committee (FAPRAC) in June. A new fieldhouse is an anchor of that redevelopment.

“It is one of our identified capital priorities where we need all three levels of government at the table and it’s actually the only one that fits in that criteria and is not funded by other levels of government right now,” Mian said.  

“My recommendation is that we add that quite explicitly.”

Fieldhouse concept laid out in 2021

A multi-sport fieldhouse and a new or upgraded stadium (McMahon) were identified as the top citizen priorities in the public engagement that’s been done on that area’s redevelopment.

A 146-page concept plan was delivered at the last substantive FAPRAC meeting, just before the October 2021 municipal election.

Initially, the redevelopment was identified as a roughly $250 million endeavour. Back in 2020, the University of Calgary, in a letter delivered during a FAPRAC meeting, said it was unable to contribute to the project as it didn’t meet their current needs.

In Wednesday’s meeting, Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra also supported the addition of the fieldhouse in the pre-budget submissions.

“When you’ve got 90-plus million dollars sort of sitting in a bank account waiting for other orders of government to come to the table,” he said.

(Editor’s note: It was later confirmed that the reserve amount is $70 million.)

“It’s fundamental to our economic diversification strategy. It’s our tourism and sports destination anchor, and there’s been a lot of capital, blood, sweat and tears.”

Coun. Carra also suggested that they have an ally in Ottawa. Current Calgary MP George Chahal was chair of FAPRAC prior to being elected federally.

“I think there would be a great synergy there,” Carra said.

Committee members approved that the pre-budget submissions be prepared taking into account suggestions made during the meeting.