Thursday, May 19, 2011

Edmonton Arena

There are some things that are very practical, and there are some things that make you sit up and go HUH. It would seem that the new "agreement" on the Edmonton downtown arena (#yegarena), for many, is one of those HUH moments.

A news item posted by iNews880 has in part, the following statement:
"I'll go to the other orders of government, in particular, the province and talk to them," says Mandel. "This arena, this facility, this NHL team, is not an Edmonton private property - it is the property of northern Alberta. People come here from all across northern Alberta to go to the games, they come to Edmonton to go to concerts, people from the region use this." 
I find it a little comical that Mandel is now running to the people stating how much the people of Northern Alberta have such a huge part in this. Yet those same people were shunned from having any value when it came to the City Center Airport, where the most critical runway for medevac services was closed, and a baby from the Grande Prairie region may have died as a direct result of a medevac flight not being able to leave in time to bring this child into Edmonton for critical medical treatment.

A blog post from John MacKinnon on the Edmonton Journal's site has this statement:
"Mandel said once the framework agreement was concluded, he phoned Katz, who was sitting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at the Canucks-San Jose Sharks game in Vancouver, and shared the news with him. He said Katz was elated."

 I wonder how that phone call went (and isn't it nice to know that Mandel has Katz's private cell number), maybe it was "Hey guess what... we were able to shaft the people of Edmonton just like you wanted and now all of those suckers are going to make you even richer!"... Oh, the number of people who have suggested there is a lot of pocket padding going on... Kinda makes one think, right?

Then we have one of Edmonton's most respected bloggers, Dave Cournoyer, stating in his post:
"I am a big supporter of Edmonton’s urban core and have written a few blog posts explaining some critical questions about our City’s future that have been largely skipped or ignored in this debate:"
I can only encourage Dave to re-state those questions and pursue some answers.

With that said, the clear smell of rotten fish is in the air. As typical, most of the critical information and "words" by City Council has been done in-camera, which is the way secret things happen that the public isn't allowed to know. We aren't even being asked if we want this, it is just being shoved down our throats. If the City has any honour at all, they would see this is of major concern to a huge number of residents, and would be truthful with the facts. Not just part of the truth but the WHOLE truth. I promise you that will never happen because.. well... rotten fish... you know.

Some things to think about...

  • Traffic congestion, police and medical navigation when that traffic congestion is there, trying to get into or out of downtown when you have other things to do while an arena event is happening.
  • Taxes... your property taxes will go up to cover the shortfalls (you just KNOW there are going to be some) plus the increases needed to finance the debt you are responsible for. You pay all the money and Katz gets all the profits.
  • Education taxes, anything from the increases in the current tax base, and all future new taxes (providing the Province even approves the CRL... and it's interesting to note that the current two CRL's that are "in place" have not yet even been approved by the Province, which means all that money has been paid out but nothing has come in yet) go towards the CRL side. The Province says "education will be funded, this is the cost, it's shared equally between all Albertans". Since the province will no longer get the education portion of the taxes it would normally have collected, the dollars LOST, going into Katz's pocket, will then have to be added back into the education component, which means that all Albertans will face increases to cover the loss of "what would have been".
One other thing... "those who have"... the people with solid jobs, nice cash in the bank, affording all of the toys life brings... You may not care about paying an extra 20 or 30 bucks per person per ticket per event. You may not care that your taxes are going to go up by say another 200 bucks a year.

You... are the ones that are getting to be rare. The number of families and seniors who can not afford this is a lot more. From the concept of "hockey", the days are gone when it was a family entertainment because people just can't afford the current seat prices, let alone the increases to cover this. And concerts? Yet another family event that will be restricted to the richer crowds. A family of 4 will probably see an increase of a hundred dollars just to take the kids to a concert.

Yes indeed, the City of Edmonton is slowly turning into the city where only the rich folks get to have fun. And at the expense of the poor.

I am not convinced we need this, done this way. Do we need a new arena? Maybe... Could the old one be made more workable? Maybe... Should 80% of the costs be covered by taxpayers, while literally 100% of the profits go into a billionaire's pocket? Hell no.