Edmonton City Council to get latest update on demolition of the Coliseum November 3
(Editors note: Scott published this November 2, 2020 prior to announcing his candidacy)
The Coliseum continues to sit there, closed up, idle, and costing Edmonton taxpayers roughly $1.5 million a year in security expenses and lost opportunity. Almost a year ago city councillors agreed that demolition of the former home of the Oilers was in the cards, even though the price tag was anywhere between $15 million and $25 million.
Since then, the pandemic has hit, damaging Edmonton’s economy in the process. In an effort to support local jobs and growth in the construction sector, city council should finally get refurbishing the Exhibition Lands going, even if it means turning over demolition of the Coliseum to a private developer and reducing the sale price of the 150 acres on the old Northlands site.
The plan for the Exhibition Lands was adopted by city council’s Urban Planning Committee in early December 2019, and by turning over the property to a developer it could finally start creating a return on investment through increased property taxes, on prime real estate. What are they waiting for?
The plan city council approved already calls for new LRT stations south of the Expo Centre, and north of the Coliseum Station that badly needs work to make it safer and to kick start residential development. It calls for housing and commercial and retail development that would accommodate about 8,500 residents in some 3,500 units.
The plan suggests 60 single detached, semi-detached or duplex houses, 20 townhouses and 30 apartment units could be built annually, so you can see the tax revenue potential, if councillors decide it’s time to get going.
Yet, the updated stats that council will be looking at during the public hearing show demand increases with a larger emphasis on employment and “can boost the demand for residential and office space absorption by 100% and retail space by 300%.” The new info basically tells city council, if you build it, they will come.
When I wrote about this in November 2019, the plan was to begin development of the southern part of 150 acres and eventually work north to 118 avenue. After a delay of another year it makes sense to combine demo costs on tearing down the old race track buildings as well as the Coliseum to speed up the process and allow private development money to begin flowing, especially while material costs are relatively low.
The time is now for council to move on this project and stop throwing money in maintenance and security costs at a problem that could be solved today. The only caveat is, any contract language with a developer should insist on a short time frame to make sure things start getting built, so the land doesn’t continue to just sit there.