Calgary city council to vote on killing bid for 2026 Winter Games

Referendum on the issue was schedule for Wednesday

A Calgary bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games appears virtually dead unless a financial rabbit is pulled out of a hat.

City council will vote Wednesday on motions to kill the bid and cancel a Nov. 13 plebiscite asking Calgarians if they want the games or not.

Coun. Evan Woolley, who chairs Calgary’s Olympic assessment committee, brought forth the motions Tuesday at committee and those motions were referred to council.

“We do not have acceptable agreements in place with the other orders of government,” Woolley said. “It’s going to be a difficult, difficult decision for council as a whole and for individual councillors.”

Advance voting for the plebiscite is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

The bid corporation Calgary 2026 estimated the cost of hosting the games at $5.2 billion. Calgary 2026 asked for a combined $3 billion contribution from the federal and provincial governments and the city.

The Canadian government committed $1.5 billion and the Alberta government $700 million. The feds expressed their contribution in “2026 dollars” at $1.75 billion, however.

The city has yet to state what its share would be, but when the mayor said Calgary shouldn’t pay more than the province, it appeared the three levels of government were not going to get to the $3-billion ask.

READ MORE: Calgary considers bid for 2026 Olympic Games

READ MORE: Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell tells Calgary to go for 2026 Olympics

Mayor Naheed Nenshi wasn’t ready to call Calgary’s bid for 2026 dead Tuesday.

“If you know me, you know I am a Canadian football fan and in the CFL you often get that last field goal in the very last second going through the uprights,” the mayor said. “I remain optimistic that something is possible here.

“What council has to do tomorrow is determine whether there’s enough there for Calgarians to vote on two weeks from today, or if in fact they feel that the clock has in fact run out without the field goal.”

The provincial government said it would not provide a penny more that $700 million, nor would it provide any financial guarantees against cost over-runs.

The federal government’s hosting policy for international sports events provides for up to 50 per cent of the public investment required.

The feds committed the $1.5 billion, but required the city and provincial governments combined to match that figure.

“The federal hosting policy is we will match dollar for dollar the contribution of the municipality and the province,” federal sports minister Kirsty Duncan said in Ottawa early Tuesday.

Woolley believes that city cannot travel further down the 2026 road without a financial agreement between the three orders of government.

“Right now, we have seven hundred million dollars committed from the provincial government with no indemnities or no guarantees on that money,” he pointed out.

“We have a proposal from the federal government that does not move beyond their 50 per cent and is in 2026 dollars, which does not add up to the money required to host the games.

“We had a number of positive conversations that signalled they would be willing to go beyond their 50 per cent.

“The gap is too large.”

Calgary was the host city of the 1988 Winter Olympics. The venues still used for international and domestic competition and training are the foundation of a second bid.

Calgary 2026 estimated $502 million would required to get those venues Olympic-ready again.

The bid corporation had built $1.1 billion in capital and operational contingency funds into its draft host plan.

Calgary 2026 chief executive officer Mary Moran predicted hosting the games again would bring $4.4 billion into the local economy.

The International Olympic Committee has committed $1.2 billion in cash and services to the 2026 host city.

— With files from Canadian Press reporter Terry Pedwell in Ottawa

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

160 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta on Tuesday

Province now has 1,571 active cases

CP Holiday Train cancelled this year; virtual concert to be held in lieu of event

Canadian Pacific will still donate to local food banks in its network and host a virtual concert.

Local author up for publishing award

Lori Gurnette is nominated for the Author Elite Awards in the fantasy category for her YA novel.

Two Wetaskiwin locals walk 376 km for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Gary Mason and Tracey Paluck walked from the Saskatchewan border all the way to the B.C. border.

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

First annual Best of Wetaskiwin Readers’ Choice Awards

Enter to win a $200 gift card for Canadian Tire.

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

Most Read