Calgary council will use profits from the city-owned Enmax to upgrade Memorial Drive and Central Memorial Park as a tribute to the city's veterans, a plan spearheaded by the mayor during his re-election campaign.
On Monday night, council approved $31.5 millionto plant new trees and upgrade lighting along the Memorial Drive parkway on the banks of the Bow River.Another$6.2 million will go to repairing the cenotaph,other monuments and facilities in the downtown Central Memorial Park starting next year.
"I think it's appropriate that not only do we bring this area back up to its grandeur of years gone by but re-establish that historical connection back to the fallen soldiers in the military who gave of their lives for our country," Mayor Dave Bronconnier said Monday.
After the First World War, more than 3,000 poplar trees were planted along Sunnyside Boulevard to remember soldiers killed in that war. The road was later renamed Memorial Drive.
But the trees are dying and Central Memorial Park on 4th Street Southwest, which houses the city's cenotaph, is in need of repairs.
Bronconnier's plan taps intodividends from Enmax, the city-owned utility.
Ward 12 Ald. Ric McIver supports the project, but questions using the profits without sufficient public debate.
"I think we need to put the financing through the budget process and consider whether we would use some of the new provincial financing that the province has earmarked for the City of Calgary or to take more money from Enmax," he said.
"Enmax isn't giving taxpayers any money. The taxpayers own Enmax. It's all their money."
The first $35 million Enmax makes each year goes to the city, with additional earnings going into the parks legacy fund. The utility is expected to reap about $50 million a year in dividends over the next five years.
"It's being very smart and strategic, taking those dividend payments and rather than just letting them go into general revenue funds, it's dedicating them to a specific purpose," said the mayor.