EDMONTON - The Katz Group says it won’t meet with city council to discuss the downtown arena, at least not yet.
The company posted a letter Thursday on the Oilers website in response to Mayor Stephen Mandel’s invitation to appear before council to discuss the project.
“While we appreciate the mayor’s invitation, we do not think such a meeting can be productive until we have reduced the outstanding issues,” John Karvellas, executive vice-president and general counsel, said in the letter.
“As we have said previously, we remain committed to working constructively with city administration to reach an agreement and would be pleased to go before council with administration to present a comprehensive and mutually supported proposal, or even a proposal with one or two significant issues still to be resolved. Then, council can review the proposal and either approve or reject it as it sees fit.”
Mandel took a positive view of the statement.
“I think it’s great news,” he said. “It means they’ve accepted an invitation to come to city council to present their position prior to going through with administration.
“Once and for all we’ll get this finalized,” Mandel said, suggesting the two parties could meet at a council meeting next week or the following one on Oct. 10.
“You don’t see that as them saying, ‘We don’t want to meet with you now, we want to hash it out with administration first?’” asked one reporter.
“No, I never said that we were going to go to council an analyze every detail. That would be silliness,” said Mandel. “What I said was, the Katz Group will come and present their position to council, present what concerns differentiate them from our administration.
“Right now I’m not sure what those are or what those aren’t.”
“I think it’s very good news,” he said, “and I’m glad to hear they are working to get this done. But there is again a time limit. I think it has to come to an end as soon as possible. I’m saying next Wednesday or two weeks after that. That would be the time when they would come.”
Mandel said the company doesn’t need to come with 50 pages of numbers to outline its entire position, the Katz Group just needs to explain in public which points it and the city’s negotiators can’t agree on.
Reached after Mandel made his comments, Coun. Kim Krushell said the company’s statement was hard to understand.
“At first I thought they didn’t want to meet, but actually when you read the statement, it’s confusing. It appears they are prepared to meet and actually negotiate or discuss what their concerns are.
“It would be good to get more clarification from the Katz Group.”
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