Edmonton city councillors approved a plan to cover a $100-million shortfall in the funding plan for the proposed downtown arena — $3 million at a time.

In the recent budget, the province increased the amount it grants Edmonton annually through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative, which helps pay for municipal infrastructure projects, by $3 million.

City administrators recommended the city put the increase toward the arena over the next 20 years, which would raise $45 million of the $100 million arena shortfall.

Councillors approved the plan in an 8-5 vote, while making the deal contingent upon receiving clarification from the province with respect to the remaining $55 million.

"Council took a courageous step ... to commit to what the premier asked us to do which is to use MSI money to do this," said Mayor Stephen Mandel.

"(The arena deal) is much closer today than it was yesterday," he told reporters after the meeting.

The city would continue to badger the province during that time for the remaining $55 million, city manager Simon Farbrother said.

Coun. Kim Krushell said the vote can be seen as a challenge to the province.

"Where are you in this equation? We've met you again halfway because we stepped up on the $45 million with the MSI and we're waiting for the balance," she said. "That's the message that's been sent out."

The city is hoping to hear back from the province within a couple of weeks.

The province has repeatedly said it will not fund the arena except through already existing infrastructure grants such as the MSI.

Construction on the arena could start next spring, with the first game in the new arena played at the beginning of the 2016 season.

CBC reporters Scott Fralick (@ScottFralick) and Scott Stevenson (@SStevensonCBC) blogged live from the meeting throughout the day.

With files from CBC's Scott Fralick