Prov­ince will­ing to spend $700M to host Olympics

Cal­gary 2026 plan called for in­vest­ment of $1 bil­lion from Al­berta govern­ment

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - MEGHAN POTKINS mpotkins@post­ Twit­ter: @mpotkins

The Al­berta govern­ment has pledged $700 mil­lion to­ward the cost of Cal­gary host­ing the 2026 Win­ter Games — short of the $1 bil­lion hoped for by the city.

Cal­gary 2026’s plan pegs the to­tal pub­lic in­vest­ment re­quired to host the Games at $3 bil­lion.

Pre­vi­ous cost pro­jec­tions have sug­gested the pro­vin­cial con­tri­bu­tion needed to be closer to $1 bil­lion to meet the costs out­lined in the draft host plan pre­sented last month.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Joe Ceci said some con­di­tions will have to be met for pro­vin­cial fund­ing to go to the Games.

The prov­ince’s money is con­tin­gent upon Cal­gar­i­ans vot­ing in favour of host­ing the Olympics in a Nov. 13 plebiscite. At a news con­fer­ence Fri­day morn­ing, Ceci clar­i­fied that the prov­ince is look­ing for a sim­ple ma­jor­ity of 50 per cent plus one.

He also par­ried ques­tions about whether the pro­vin­cial fund­ing amount is an im­ped­i­ment to Cal­gary’s bid pro­ceed­ing.

“It was a num­ber we felt com­fort­able putting in rel­a­tive to the sit­u­a­tion we’re in at the pro­vin­cial govern­ment level,” he said.

“I would say that $700 mil­lion is not any­thing to sneeze at. It is first out of the gate. We’re com­mit­ting to that amount of money, we’re hope­ful that the other or­ders of govern­ment will as­sess that and see the rel­a­tive value of that con­tri­bu­tion.”

In an open let­ter to the City of Cal­gary and the Govern­ment of Canada, Ceci laid out some other con­di­tions of the prov­ince’s sup­port.

The prov­ince won’t pro­vide any ad­di­tional funds to cover rev­enue short­falls or cost over­runs, Ceci stated. He also said the prov­ince isn’t will­ing to pro­vide any form of fi­nan­cial guar­an­tee to back­stop Games-re­lated costs, as B.C. did for the Van­cou­ver 2010 Olympics.

Ceci’s let­ter also touched on one of the more con­tentious crit­i­cisms made of Cal­gary’s bid to date.

The prov­ince says it will re­quire Cal­gary 2026 be­come sub­ject to pro­vin­cial trans­parency and free­dom of in­for­ma­tion laws, “or other equiv­a­lent rules or reg­u­la­tions.”

“This is not an un­sub­stan­tial amount of money and Al­ber­tans should know where it goes and how it is dealt with,” Ceci said Fri­day.

With the prov­ince’s fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment pub­lic, all eyes turn to the other or­ders of govern­ment.

While the fed­eral govern­ment’s fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment has not yet been an­nounced, Ot­tawa’s pol­icy on host­ing in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events is that it will cover up to 50 per cent of the pub­lic por­tion of the bill.

The City of Cal­gary’s con­tri­bu­tion has not yet been made pub­lic.

Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi and coun­cil’s Olympic com­mit­tee chair­man, Evan Wool­ley, is­sued a joint state­ment in re­sponse to the news Fri­day.

“We’re pleased that the prov­ince has come for­ward with their in­vest­ment. We have to an­a­lyze this an­nounce­ment, while con­tin­u­ing our con­ver­sa­tions with the Govern­ment of Canada,” the state­ment read.

“We imag­ine there will be more to say about the city and fed­eral govern­ment con­tri­bu­tions in the next few days.”

Cal­gary 2026 chair­man Scott Hutch­e­son is­sued a state­ment Fri­day in re­sponse to the prov­ince’s an­nounce­ment.

“To­day’s an­nounce­ment demon­strates solid progress and sup­port from the Govern­ment of Al­berta and we are thank­ful for that,” Hutch­e­son said.

“We are also pleased our other govern­ment part­ners — the City of Cal­gary and the fed­eral govern­ment — con­tinue to move for­ward with their dis­cus­sions and ne­go­ti­a­tions. We will con­tinue to of­fer our sup­port, where needed.”


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