There is a lot to talk about from City Hall this month.
From bingo, to Haiti, to premature death - of the CalgaryNEXT proposal, that is.
Let’s start with CalgaryNEXT.
The misunderstanding between the current Mayor and Ken King, CEO of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment (Corp.), is unfortunate, and it was entirely preventable. The current Mayor violated disclosure terms of an in-camera meeting. Regarding the arena project, I have a hard time reconciling significant amounts of public money unless a project demonstrates major public good. I am sympathetic to the argument that a new arena complex will bring big economic benefits, as it has to Edmonton, and that is good for the city.
But there needs to be a balance. There had been an agreement to set CalgaryNEXT to the side while a Victoria Park option was examined. That made sense to me. Suddenly, without advising City Council, or anyone else who was party to the discussion, the current Mayor decided to announce CalgaryNEXT is dead. Who’s to say its proponents won’t come back with a version that’s more palatable to City Council? Certainly not the current Mayor. And before the current Mayor stood up to trumpet his position, there should have been communication with the CalgaryNEXT group. Not doing so is disrespectful, and not how things should be done.
Now the bingo association issue.
Bingo associations saw their tax load more than double in the past two years. What some people might not know, is that bingo provides a revenue stream to charities. I introduced a motion to give tax relief to bingo associations, so the amount of money going to non-profit charities would be increase. The vote carried, and Calgary families will benefit. That’s important, particularly in these difficult economic times. Not everyone supported Calgarians in this venture, including the current Mayor.
Now to Haiti, a country that has been ravaged by natural disasters.
I support Canada helping with foreign affairs, but that falls within the purview of the federal government. As Calgary’s city council, we are responsible for delivering core services to our citizens. Re-building roads in Haiti is not a core service. As I will say over and over, I believe we should stay out of committing Calgary tax dollars to matters that other levels of government are responsible for. Again, I am sympathetic to the people of Haiti, and I support the federal government in its foreign aid initiatives. But property tax paid by Calgarians should go to city priorities.