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Motion discussing event funding boost gets unanimous support from committee at Edmonton City Hall

A motion looking to quadruple the amount of money the city can use to try to attract events to Edmonton received unanimous support from a city committee on Monday evening.

The community and public services committee voted to progress discussions around increasing the base budget for event attraction.

Currently at $500,000, the motion calls for that number to be raised to $2 million starting next year.

Before casting their ballots, the committee heard from a variety of sports and entertainment groups.

Do North Events is a not-for-profit group which helped host several events in Edmonton in 2023, like the World Triathlon Series. It said Edmonton ranks very high in the world as a sports venue.

“We are an event city. It is what we do. We have such a strong sector here,” said Stephen Bourdeau, Do North Events’ CEO.

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Bourdeau noted funding was tight for many of the events hosted in 2023, and concessions made this year won’t be available for next time.

“Our reputation is on the line, and a significant economic and community impact, you know, dozens of workers, dozens of businesses that count on these events,” he said.

According to a city report read at the meeting, eight major international and national events held in Edmonton in 2023 resulted in an estimated $64 million in economic activity.

The report outlined that the City of Edmonton gave around $1.6 million in funding to those eight events.

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“There’s a massive impact that those events have,” said Coun. Andrew Knack, who voted in favour of the motion.

He added there are other long-term benefits to hosting events like infrastructure upgrades and community programs.

“For some of these sports events, you see some of the legacy projects that are meant to allow kids to be more involved in sports,” Knack said.

The potential funding increase is currently unfunded, meaning it is not known where the money would come from.

The city is posting a $73.8-million deficit this year, and administration is recommending a seven per cent tax increase to deal with the shortfall.

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“So we have to figure out how you would address that before we start looking at some of these additional increases,” Knack said. “We can’t just be adding and adding to what is already a really large increase.”

The issue will now head to council for consideration during the 2023 budget adjustments.

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