Saskatoon City Councilors to Review Downtown Arena Funding Report

The strategy aims to raise funds over the next few years without further dipping into property taxes.

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It is still unknown where a proposed downtown Saskatoon arena could be built, but city councilors will start figuring out how to pay for it at next week’s Governance and Priorities Committee meeting.

An administrative report to be presented at Monday’s committee meeting connects a new arena, a new convention center, and a bus rapid transit (BRT) system as pillars of a strategy to revitalize downtown Saskatoon. The report then outlines options the board might consider raising the funds to pay for them.

A letter attached to the plan and signed by the CEOs and board chairs of SaskTel Center and TCU Place formally asks the board to consider replacing the two buildings, noting that their age is starting to erode their competitiveness.

“If current facilities are not updated or improved, Saskatoon will lose customers, events and visitors to competitors, thereby eroding the local economic benefits of the facilities,” the letter said.

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While also acknowledging that TCU Place and SaskTel Center are approaching the end of their useful life, the administration says budget pressures and “capital project fatigue” among citizens are barriers to building replacement. He suggests finding new ways to raise funds.

The report proposes to use federal money from the 10-year Investing in Canada infrastructure program to cover some costs, noting that the city still has about $ 290 million in CIPI money to allocate, including $ 77.6 million. dollars from its own funds contributed towards CIPI costs. -Formula for sharing projects.

However, the report notes that the CIPI money cannot be used to build professional or semi-professional sports facilities, so if the transfer money could be used for the BRT, it would likely have to be found. ‘other funds for the arena.

Another option in the report is Tax Increase Funding (FIT), which would effectively mean diverting future increases in planned property tax revenues from the revitalized downtown district to help finance construction.

Beyond property taxes, the City of Saskatoon currently only has the authority to collect amusement tax – which it currently does only for Praireland Park; the money is then returned to Prairieland to be reinvested in the facility.

The administration’s report suggests examining how other North American cities have funded arena and convention center initiatives, noting that many U.S. cities have been allowed to levy taxes on hotel rooms and vehicle rentals and levy surcharges on event tickets.

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In Canada, the report says Winnipeg has been given the power to charge a 5% accommodation tax to raise funds to support the Winnipeg Convention Center, among other tourism-related initiatives. Ontario has also given municipalities the power to levy a “temporary accommodation tax” on hotels, motels and short-term rentals online to cover initiatives and amenities designed to boost tourism. The report adds that these taxes help capture revenue from out-of-town customers who benefit from the use of the facilities.

Although Saskatoon does not currently have these tax options, the report notes that while the city can get the province to agree to allow some of them, combined with the expected transfers from the federal and provincial governments in the coming years and the use from the FIT, there would be no anticipated need to fund projects from property taxes beyond what has already been committed for the BRT.

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  1. Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe makes an announcement to keep Saskatoon's economy strong.  Photo taken in Saskatoon, SK on Friday October 16, 2020.

    Moe says he would consider helping fund new downtown Saskatoon arena

  2. The former Patricia Hotel site was purchased by the Saskatoon Public Library to accommodate the new downtown branch.  The site is seen in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Monday April 6, 2020.

    Tank: Big projects like the Saskatoon library could play a role in recovery

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