Danielle In The House, October 30: Professional Sports Arena for Edmonton

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Since the topic of Edmonton’s downtown arena is back in the news, I thought I’d take some time to clarify where we in the Wildrose stand on this issue. The Wildrose wants Edmonton to have an arena. We like having two NHL hockey teams in our province. We like what this means for Alberta, for our two major cities, and for our economy, and we think that a new arena for the city of Edmonton would be a fabulous addition to a rejuvenated and ever-evolving downtown core but not at any cost.

Last year I put out a proposal to help fund this project, one that would require no additional funding from the province and, most importantly, would protect taxpayers from being forced into having to pay for it. It’s a lottery, Mr. Speaker. Quite simply, it would be a branded lottery sponsored by the province dedicated to generating revenues for Alberta’s two NHL hockey teams with the express purpose of raising funds for a new arena. It would give Albertans, passionate hockey fans, a direct stake in their team’s future and, critically it would be entirely voluntary. We estimate that it would generate between $5 million and $10 million annually for Alberta’s hockey teams, which is a steady stream of revenue to help offset arena costs.

Now, yesterday the Municipal Affairs minister got quite agitated at the idea of a lottery, apparently forgetting that this very government implemented a lottery in 2001 to raise money for Alberta’s NHL hockey teams. It was a good idea then; it’s a good idea now.

Mr. Speaker, let me also put to rest a false comparison the same minister made. He suggested that there is no difference between municipalities using provincial MSI dollars to build a public recreation centre or an NHL hockey arena. We disagree. One is a public asset, the other a private endeavour. That’s why we support a lottery. If you want a new downtown arena for Edmonton or someday for Calgary . . .

The Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.