Mayor Don Iveson giving the City’s stance on Northland’s Vision 20/20 plan a clearer picture.
Iveson calls the plan ambitious and gave some insight into his thoughts on the plans for the coliseum arena multiplex project and conversion of the campus into festival grounds.
“I think there is a case for further exploration around the multiplex, whether it’s four sheets, whether it’s six sheets, whether it has other sports and user groups included within it for example, that has to be explored through. But as for anything south of 118 Avenue I think we have to be realistic that the business case just isn’t there for that investment,” said Iveson.
“There may be some interim solutions that can be explored until some of the larger questions around Northlands are answered, but I’m open to hearing arguments about this next week, but we must be realistic and we must act in the best interest of the city’s economy.”
As of now, Northland’s Expo Centre and the Shaw Conference Centre are competing for business, but Iveson thinks that might need to be changed too.
“Whether that authority is EEDC, or whether it’s Northlands, or whether it’s a new company that we start with the province and Alberta Tourism or the region, I’m agnostic as to who it is. So, I think Northlands could potentially fill that role, I think EEDC could potentially fill that role.”
Iveson says he’s heard that most Edmontonians don’t want to forgive Northlands of its multi million dollar debt.
Meanwhile, Northlands President and CEO Tim Reid says that Vision 20/20 was never an ultimatum.
“Vision 20/20 was a concept plan,” says Reid. “(It is) based on the Northlands arena committee’s recommendation that we revisit the 160 acres. So we also knew that this plan would have to be vetted with the public, and with council. And that ultimately the plan would have to change somehow.”
Reid adds that he likes what he’s seen from the city so far and the worst thing they could do is nothing.
“What we’ve tried to be very, very ambitious with is making sure that people are clear that there is a need to do something,” explains Reid. “Otherwise, we’re going to end up with a premium conference facility in the heart of a very derelict and non-activated space.”
He also says that when it comes to turning Rexall Place into a sports multiplex that’s not up to him.
“All of those decisions land with council,” says Reid. “That’s really why council’s feedback is so important on Vision 20/20.”
City council meets Wednesday, August 31 to discuss the issue and to hold a public hearing. (djs/km)