CALGARY, ALTA. — The Rachel Notley government in Alberta recently announced it will help fund an expansion of the BMO Centre in Calgary. The project will double the size of the centre, making it the second largest convention centre in Canada.
To do this, the province is extending the Calgary Rivers District Community Revitalization Levy (CRL). This will not only fund the expansion but also pay for infrastructure upgrades to East Victoria Park.
The province estimates the project will create 2,250 jobs and contribute $223 million annually to Alberta’s economy.
“East Victoria Park, which includes Stampede Park and BMO Centre, has long stood as the city’s cultural epicentre,” said Notley in a press release. “With this announcement, we are going to kick-start urban renewal in Calgary’s downtown, create thousands of jobs, and increase tourism, business development and investment in Calgary.”
Stampede Park sees more than 1.2 million visitors during the Calgary Stampede. But during the rest of the year, the BMO centre hosts more than 1,200 events. The expansion would also allow for $140 million in infrastructure upgrades in East Victoria Park, and the future transformation of Arts Commons, which includes the Jack Singer Concert Hall, Max Bell Theatre, Martha Cohen Theatre, Big Secret Theatre and the Engineered Air Theatre.
“This CRL has been one of the most successful in the world, and the new vibrancy of the East Village is testament to that,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “Extending it for a further 20 years after 2026 will allow us to craft even better neighbourhoods, particularly south of the tracks in East Victoria Park where we are crafting a great cultural and entertainment district for Calgary.”
The CRL program is a planning and financial tool under the Municipal Government Act that helps municipalities revitalize areas where redevelopment would not otherwise occur. A CRL allows a municipality to use municipal and education property tax revenues from increased property values in a specific area to help finance infrastructure required to spur new development.
The BMO Centre is currently a 265,000-square-foot facility. The expansion of the BMO Centre is made possible through a legislative amendment to allow the normal CRL term of 20 years to be modified. Over the 40-year period of the CRL, private developers will invest an estimated $8 to $11 billion in new developments in the area.
To date, approximately $2.8 billion in planned investment has already been realized in East Village. These investments are bringing residents, businesses and visitors into the area, states the release.
Calgary City Council will hold a public hearing to discuss a revised Rivers District CRL Bylaw in 2019. Once approved, it must be sent to the province for approval.