Dear Councillor Woolley,
I am a constituent living in your riding. Thank you for bringing forward a motion to extend the time available for public consultation on the proposed deal with the Calgary Flames. I am deeply disappointed that the Mayor and most of Council rejected your motion.
The fundamental issue here is not whether this project is good or bad—I don’t know, I haven’t been given enough time to make a reasoned decision—it’s whether Council has the right to make this decision in the absence of a fulsome public engagement process.
Councillor Jeff Davison says there’s been ample time for consultation with Calgarians, over 14 months. The Facilities Update document dated July 22, 2019 indicates otherwise. The Event Centre Exploration Committee was created and its mandate was approved on May 28, 2018. Its workplan was approved on Feb 20, 2019. The timeline ends on July 4, 2019. There is no record of any public consultation at any time between May 28, 2018 and July 4, 2019.
This is even more egregious considering the Committee’s mandate which requires it to “identify, consult and collaborate with key internal and external stakeholders.” Surely Calgarians who are being asked to foot the $275 million bill and trade off other public services in exchange for an arena would be considered “key external stakeholders.”
The Committee is required to conduct itself in accordance with certain “principles” including “engagement with the public throughout the process whenever possible to ensure transparency.” Councillor Davison telling me to send a form to a City website by noon Friday does not satisfy the principle of “engagement.”
Councillor Woolley, you moved a motion in March 2019 (unanimously adopted) directing city administration to work with the Committee to develop a public engagement plan. The Committee failed to act on your motion.
If this is as good a project as Councillor Davison says it is and it makes sense on its own merits as Mayor Nenshi says it does, then it will withstand public scrutiny in the form of a public engagement process that outlines the benefits it will bring to Calgarians.
If Council approves this proposal on Tuesday July 30, 2019, in the absence of meaningful public consultation it will violate our democratic rights as citizens to participate in material decisions that affect our wellbeing. We will not forget this breach of trust when we cast our ballots in the next municipal election.
I urge you to vote against this proposal.