Edmonton considers raising missing Oilers arena funds by wishing it into existence

The Edmonton city council thinks they’ve come up with a new way to fill the Oilers arena funding gap, and this time it’s not beating their head against the provincial government’s door. Or just spending the money and hoping they can pay for it later. Well, okay, yes, it is just spending the money and hoping they can pay for it later, but pay for it later in a different way:

City council could look to the community revitalization levy to cover the missing $55 million needed for the proposed downtown arena project if the province doesn’t come through, some councillors say.

The levy is up for debate Wednesday as administration presents a list of revitalization projects that could be funded with the projected increase in taxes from development in the levy area. Administration earlier suggested development around the downtown arena project will raise $612 million to $1.1 billion over the 20-year life of the levy.

The CRL is essentially a Canadian version of a TIF, wherein future growth in tax revenue gets kicked back to pay for the project that (allegedly) helped sput its growth. The Oilers arena is already being funded by CRL money, but now it sounds like Edmonton is considering just increasing the amount of pretend money that it projects the arena will generate in the future, magically creating more cash to pay off the arena debt. And if the money doesn’t turn up, well, hey, they were just going to blow it on parks and roads anyway.

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7 comments on “Edmonton considers raising missing Oilers arena funds by wishing it into existence

  1. Those Canadians do things somewhat different. When the propose a funky-named TIF they at least keep the amount somewhat reasonable if it’s really just a $55 mil gap. *eyes shift to Chicago*

  2. Keep in mind, gentlemen, that the first CRL was only supposed to apply to the arena lands themselves (meaning Katz or Katz-controlled developments would pay it). Then, when someone in city hall actually ran the numbers (or at least locked himself in an office for an afternoon watching youtube and emerged in the evening with a sheet with numbers on it), they found that that CRL wouldn’t generate enough money to keep the place painted. So they expanded it. And, IIRC, expanded it again. At the end of the day, to get the amount of money they wanted while still keeping the CRL rate at an amount that wouldn’t produce a mini civil war, they covered something like 40 blocks, I believe.

    So, sorry if I missed it in the article, but is this a surtax on the CRL they are proposing? Or is it yet another increase to the CRL zone itself?

    Rather than wait for the province to give them money… why not just expand the CRL to include all of Alberta. Or North America? I mean, the dunce mayor is already talking about annexing a city on Edmonton’s southern boundary, even though Edmonton itself could grow in several “other directions”…

  3. My understanding — and “understanding” is probably a misnomer here, but it’s what I’ve got — is that they’ve simply gone back into the office with the YouTube and come out clutching a new sheet, with bigger numbers on it.

    I believe they punted the meeting from today for another two weeks, though, because a report wasn’t ready. So maybe they still have more videos to watch. That one with Taylor Swift and the goat is pretty awesome.

  4. North America? Why not? I’ll occasionally watch a hockey game on TV and pop open a brew to add to the game experience. Why shouldn’t a tax on that incremental beer consumption be tacked on to pay for an Oiler arena?

  5. Neil, The city is still banging it’s head on the provincial wall because the province must approve the CRL as it will divert education property taxes captured in the CRL to the city (and through them to the arena). Given the province is running a massive deficit and cuts are coming, the premier would likely ensure a loss in the next election if she approves the CRL. Hopefully she will have the good sense to deny it but…

  6. Chris:

    It’s true that the province must approve diversion of tax money via a CRL. However, I don’t believe it’s a stretch to see them approving that. Since the money it diverts would be “edmonton’s” anyway, I think it unlikely that the province would wade in and effectively tell them they can’t use their own tax revenues for an arena.

    I wish they would do so, mind you, but I just don’t see it happening in hockey crazed Canada. Now, if Edmonton was talking about diverting tax dollars for a “history of socialism” museum, or an institute dedicated to impartial study of the environmental impacts of the oil & gas industry… well, now your talkin’…

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