‘Horrible optics’: Tax-burdened business owners fume after Calgary chips in $275 million for new Flames arena

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CALGARY – A deal to contribute $275 million in city funds for a new Calgary Flames sports arena has irked many local small- to mid-sized business owners, many of whom are already furious at the city for double- or triple-digit business property tax hikes.

“It’s a tough proposal to swallow, to be honest, and if anything it’s sad that it’s coming right now because there are many Calgarians, myself included, who would love to see a new arena and would love to support it with big cheers,” said Kelly Doody, who runs a social media and digital marketing training business in the city called The Social School.

The city and the province has been reeling since the oil price collapse of 2014 led to deep cuts in the energy industry, the driver of the economy. The owners of the Flames, led by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. executive chairman and billionaire oilman Murray Edwards, have had to grapple with the challenges at their own companies by, in CNRL’s case, cutting senior level salaries and spending. Now, both the city under Mayor Naheed Nenshi and the province under Premier Jason Kenney are looking at spending cuts of their own.

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