If there’s one thing that Calgary’s city council would love to stop hearing about or talking about as much as they have over the past few years, it’s plans for a new home for the Calgary Flames. Discussion surrounding CalgaryNEXT and its seeming successor, the Victoria Park Plan B project, have dragged on since August 2015. Unless a deal is agreed to by both sides and approved by council in the final meetings before the upcoming civic election, the negotiations will probably drag on even further – probably into early 2018, at least.
Any arena deal that involves public financing of an arena – either directly or through some manner of financing scheme – would need to get council approval to move ahead. Generally speaking, that would require two meetings’ worth of time: an initial meeting to unveil the scheme and explain everything behind it (and allow for debate in council), followed by a period of public feedback and then a second meeting to actually approve everything.
An arena deal is not on the agenda for today’s council meeting. There are two meetings left: July 31 and Sept. 11. Based on our understanding of how council usually operates, if an arena deal’s not on the July 31 agenda then it won’t get completed prior to the Oct. 16 election. A handful of council members aren’t running again, while all 15 seats on council (including mayor) are up for re-election. It’s possible that a very different-looking group could convene in the fall to revisit this issue and need to re-familiarize themselves with the issue – probably pushing a decision date into 2018.
It’s also possible that the deal could be finished by then, but the clock is definitely ticking on that possibility.