Calgary

Talk of $10M for Arts Commons design work delayed to avoid budget confusion

Conversations about funds for detailed design work for upgrading Arts Commons will have to wait until September while Calgary city council deals with the hot potato of finding $60 million to cut from this year’s budget.

Funds previously set aside, but council concerned taxpayers may not get distinction

Arts Commons in downtown Calgary is home to performance venues, rehearsal halls, theatre workshops and offices. (Google Maps)

Conversations about funds for detailed design work for upgrading Arts Commons will have to wait until September while Calgary city council deals with the hot potato of finding $60 million to cut from this year's budget.

The $10 million in funds, previously earmarked from the provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative, was to be released to Arts Commons sooner rather than later. But council decided Friday it would be best to have that discussion down the road to allow more focus on the budget cuts, which could include belt-tightening in areas like policing, fire and public transit.

Coun. Druh Farrell chairs the Arts Commons Advisory Committee.

"Is this the time to be talking about this particular project?" Farrell asked.

"A lot of new members of council may not be aware that we've made previous decisions directing this fund. It's sitting waiting for this work. And so let's put it off so we can think more clearly."

Mayor Naheed Nenshi made the suggestion to delay the conversation.

"We've got so much coming at you in the next two weeks and there has been no time to prepare to talk to council members about what this ask for Arts Commons is," Nenshi said.

"I was just worried that it wouldn't get the proper attention that it deserved."

The goal of the project is to transform and expand Arts Commons. The first phase of the project would see three new theatres built.

With files from Lucie Edwardson and Scott Dippel

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