When an advocacy group features a page on their website entitled “Holy S#%t! facts,” people have certain expectations. Like factuality.
Those people probably never accounted for Operation Maple.
In their most recent “Holy S#%t! ‘fact,'” the group — who contend that their mission is to “take back Canada” (although from who, precisely, is somewhat tough to say — targets the recent deal to build a new arena in downtown Edmonton.
To be fair, there’s a lot to be critical of. This author himself doesn’t think that so much as a red cent of taxpayer dollars should have gone into the building itself (although the infrastructure around it is another question). If anything, Daryl Katz had demonstrated himself willing to have the Edmonton Oilers playing in an arena he himself didn’t fully own when he floated the idea of a move to Seattle. So in reality, the project was the perfect opportunity to marshal private capital in order to get the building constructed.
The very least that can be said about the City of Edmonton is that they did it in what is ostensibly the most responsible way possible. By building the arena with a community revitalization grant, they make it possible for the city to pay for its share of the project out of future tax revenues from the arena. It’s not a perfect solution — and never actually guarantees that the revenues in question will be used for this purpose — but it’s good enough.
But once you cleave past the very basic numbers — $219 million from the City of Edmonton, and a presumed $107 million from the Province of Alberta — suddenly Operation Maple throws a very peculiar number at you: 95.
As in they claim 95% of Albertans will be “unable to afford” to attend events in Edmonton’s downtown arena.
Where on Earth did they get that number from, one may ask? That’s an excellent question.
They certainly didn’t get it from Statistics Canada. According to Stats Can, the median total income by family in Alberta was more than $85,000. It’s actually increased since then.
Precisely how does Operation Maple think that, in a province where half the population earns more than $85,000 a year — or $49,500 per hockey season — that only 5% of that population would be able to afford to attend events of any type in that new arena? Just how much do they think it costs to go to an NHL hockey game? A concert? A WHL hockey game?
All of this, of course, is presuming that there was any kind of logic behind this number whatsoever. Maybe they just made it up. The more a person thinks about this in context, the more likely it seems that this is precisely what they did.
Which is a shame. It certainly isn’t helpful to the debate over the downtown arena to have far-left advocacy groups just making up their “facts.”