Canada Infrastructure Bank could play role in funding new Calgary arena, ex-mayor says

Former Calgary mayor Dave Bronconnier says the new Canada Infrastructure Bank may be able to play a role in helping fund a new arena in the city.

'When you look at major redevelopment projects, they're transformational'

Former Calgary mayor Dave Bronconnier spoke to CBC news about the new Canadian Infrastructure Bank, and said it's possible that new arena funding could be considered eligible through the bank. (Ellis Choe/CBC)

The new national infrastructure bank might be a new way to finance a new arena in Calgary.

That was the tantalizing prospect suggested by former Calgary mayor Dave Bronconnier on Wednesday, when he told CBC News host Rob Brown it's conceivable the new arena might be considered eligible for support from the new $35 billion infrastructure bank.

Bronconnier is one of 10 board members of the bank, which will be used to leverage private funding, with a particular eye to partnering with pension funds to help finance what he says is $600 billion worth of infrastructure across the country.

"It's about sharing of risk, sharing of reward, and bringing third party capital in," said Bronconnier, who was Calgary's mayor from 2001 to 2010.

That means startup capital to help finance a variety of infrastructure projects across the country, including building roads, bridges, and other things yet to be defined.

Asked if the infrastructure bank could be an option for the city to get a new arena built, current Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wasn't as optimistic. 

"The world is full of options," he said. 

"The infrastructure bank is just a financing tool. It's not free money or new money, it's just a bank. And there are many, many financing tools for many, many things the government would want to do."

After dodging a question during the interview about how he would have solved the current impasse between the Calgary Flames and city council, Bronconnier said it's not inconceivable that an arena fits what the infrastructure bank is looking for.

"When you look at major redevelopment projects, they're transformational," Bronconnier said. "That's what the Infrastructure Bank is looking for — that and any other projects I would expect Calgary city council and others will be looking to bring forward.

"The infrastructure bank's mandate is for transformational infrastructure that has revenue generating capability attached to it," he added, "and if that meets the public interest test and the city council is submitting that, that and many other projects will be considered.

"Whether or not they'll actually be funded, we'll determine how good the application is."

With files from CBC News and The Homestretch

With files from Scott Dippel