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Letters: Be cautious about estimates to justify new downtown Saskatoon arena

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Readers share their opinions on the cost estimates for a new arena district in downtown Saskatoon and the allegations made by the Saskatchewan spokesperson.

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In his May 21 column, Phil Tank explained that “six years after city council voted to consider a new downtown arena instead of upgrading the outlying SaskTel Centre – renovations are now estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars” and that this is a justification for a new downtown arena.

As previously reported in the StarPhoenix (April 2023), it would cost $101 million to “fix the deficiencies” of the SaskTel Centre, and at $178 million, a new arena would be a better investment.

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Another new estimate of “hundreds of millions of dollars” for the SaskTel Centre is part of the ongoing shell game of estimates the city will continue to use to justify the Downtown Event and Entertainment District (DEED).

Upgrades to electrical and mechanical systems and functional areas may be required at the SaskTel Centre and costs may vary depending on extravagant requirements and estimates.

In February 2023, I already wrote that the project cost (total cost) for a new arena would be $318 million, based on a three-year design and construction period, including three percent inflation per year plus a 10 percent contingency factor for unexpected or unforeseen developments.

The SaskTel Centre is adequate and functional; minor improvements may be needed. Until the City truthfully reports all updated costs and expected revenues, including the burden on taxpayers, no one, including journalists, should assume that the City is honest and transparent.

Ron Niekamp, ​​Saskatoon

Editor’s note: The $101 million cost estimate for the SaskTel Centre renovation comes from a 2018 consultant report commissioned by SaskTel Centre and TCU Place. In February, SaskTel Centre CEO John Howden estimated the updated cost at $300 million, based on renovations at other similar facilities, such as the downtown arena in Hamilton.

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Emails from MPs to speakers should be part of the minutes

When Thomas Curson Hansard founded Hansard's Parliamentary Debates in England in 1810 to document government business, he could not have foreseen that elected officials would communicate in a digital format.

Which brings us to today, when the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan in Regina is receiving text messages from MPs while they are in the chamber.

It is wrong that a Member can text the Speaker in the Chamber and say: ‘That is an absolutely (expletive) decision, totally wrong’, when the Member is fully aware that such an oral remark would be considered unparliamentary.

These texts, sent by members of any party during their term in the Legislative Assembly, should become part of the official record and be recorded in Hansard. It is disappointing to learn that there is currently no mechanism for this.

Ian Striemer, Saskatoon

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