Contributed by City of Edmonton Edmonton's downtown arena, seen here in a concept image, was approved Wednesday at a special meeting of city council.

With a fully-funded Edmonton arena deal finally approved Wednesday, the Katz Group and the city took the next step to what they call downtown Edmonton’s bright future.

Mayor Stephen Mandel applauded the Katz Group and city council for finally resolving a long running issue and the promise of a future for the NHL’s Oilers in Edmonton.

“We will have a new arena with the Oilers, which is one of the most valuable assets in this city, staying in the city for the next 35 years,” he said.

Mandel said the commitment to investing in downtown shows the city is prepared to look at the big picture.

“This is about building a future for tomorrow, building a city that sees and wants its younger generation to see this as a place for them to build their tomorrows,” he said.

The proposal council approved in a 10-3 vote will see the Katz Group add $15 million, combined with $15 million from the community revitalization levy (CRL) and $25 million from a provincial Regional Collaboration Grant. That money received the backing of the Capital Region Board last week, but still needs provincial approval, filling the deal’s missing $55 million.

Councillors also voted to shift $45 million in funding that was to come from provincial infrastructure grants and fund it instead from the CRL.

The $15 million from the Katz Group will be paid up front in cash before the building opens.

Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz was equally happy with Wednesday’s result.

“We said at the outset this is a once in a generation opportunity, and I truly believe that,” he said.

He added that the city and Katz Group have been partners all along and he was happy to invest further in the project.

“Today’s news is about Edmonton’s future and the role this whole project can play in driving investment in our city.”

Coun. Don Iveson, previously an opponent, switched his vote, saying the city had been out-negotiated, but the project was important.

“This is the best deal we will get now or anytime in the future,” he said.

Iveson said after watching the deal continuously get worse it had been made better.

“This deal has more Katz Group money in it than it did two years ago, but cash up front – even $15 million – is finally an improvement,” he said.

Not all of the deal’s opponents flipped, however, with Couns. Kerry Diotte, Linda Sloan and Tony Caterina still opposed.

“It’s a bad deal for Edmontonians and I will not support it,” said Diotte. “Even the worst referees in the NHL can see this deal is offside.”

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