Legge: The hour has come for bold investment

Posted by: Alycia Lowdon on June 20, 2017

There has been a lot of discussion lately about Calgary being bolder and more visionary. I couldn’t agree more. 

I worry that in the downturn over these past few years, we have retrenched into thinking small. About cutting. About trimming. About savings. And while those are all critical parts of a strategy – to be efficient and effective with every dollar you have, they aren’t inspirational or aspirational. They don’t help us rise. They help to create a floor. But they don’t build. 

That is why the Calgary Chamber has encouraged City Council to be bold and think big with respect to investments in our arts, entertainment and sporting infrastructure. A real opportunity exists to create a dynamic and significant core within our city around the downtown, east village, beltline and Victoria Park areas that is filled with activities, businesses and facilities that support creativity, sport, recreation and leisure.

Many members have asked us recently why we have not been more visible on the discussion around the new arena. They believe that it, and the retention of professional and amateur sports, is vital to the quality of life in our city. We agree. 

The reality is that we have been active, just quietly. Quietly working on this project with a multitude of stakeholders and trying to broaden the view of the public benefit that these kinds of investments yield. We have provided a submission to City Council encouraging them to make this kind of investment. For we believe that the public benefit of this kind of dynamic core of activity, anchored by a new event centre, will yield immense public benefit – increased tax base, increased ability to attract and retain workers, increased ability to secure big events, continued community support through foundations, and much more.

We believe that an event centre is the critical anchor and catalyst for a newly expanded arts, entertainment and sport district. We have encouraged City Council to consider supporting an event centre along with projects such as expanded Stampede, Arts Commons, and Glenbow Museum, which would all significantly complement other new projects like the main library and the National Music Centre. 

We recognize that City Council has some difficult decisions in the next few months and that there are a lot of options to weigh. The time for those bold decisions has arrived. Scenarios have been evaluated, numbers have been crunched, and stakeholders have been engaged. We have been clear to City Council that they have the support of the Calgary Chamber in making a decision that would help us rise. That would help us live our vision and become a greater city. This type of thoughtful and ambitious approach would show vision, expand quality of life, increase Calgary’s competitiveness and ensure continued sources of civic pride. It’s the right move for Calgary’s citizens and businesses.

I am optimistic that they will make a decision to help us get there.