RE­LUC­TANT PLAYER

It’s clear province has no Olympic en­thu­si­asm

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Rick BELL rbell@post­media.com 403•250•4305 @sun­rick­bell

CAL­GARY — To no fan­fare, Team Not­ley hands over some Olympic dough.

The news comes by way of a sim­ple press re­lease.

Not­ley doesn’t come down to Cal­gary. We see no staged hul­la­baloo with po­lit­i­cal bigshots of all stripes mug­ging for the cam­era.

This is not like the Green Line LRT an­nounce­ment where you could hear the self-con­grat­u­la­tion blocks away.

Not­ley knows this Olympic file is no win­ner for her.

This is shap­ing up as a bat­tle be­tween in­sid­ers look­ing for a party and out­siders who usu­ally let in­sid­ers take what they want.

On this day, the Not­ley gov­ern­ment tells us they will give the Olympics $700 mil­lion if Cal­gar­i­ans vote Yes.

But that’s $300 mil­lion less than what the city wanted.

The Al­berta gov­ern­ment goes on. It’s painfully ob­vi­ous they have lit­tle en­thu­si­asm for this Olympic bid.

For that mat­ter, there is lit­tle en­thu­si­asm among op­po­si­tion politi­cians.

Few who have power or want power will mourn this bid’s death but no one wants to do the killing.

That will be up to Cal­gar­i­ans Nov. 13 when the city gets to say No in a vote the province forced the city to hold.

More bad news for the Yes side.

The Al­berta gov­ern­ment will not pro­vide any more than $700 mil­lion. If coin com­ing in to the Olympics is less than pro­jected, tough luck.

If there are costs over­runs, that’s not the province’s prob­lem.

To make it crys­tal clear, the Al­berta gov­ern­ment says they “will not be pro­vid­ing any form of guar­an­tee for ad­di­tional costs aris­ing from any source.”

And, as Premier Not­ley said in this col­umn days ago, the Olympic bid cor­po­ra­tion will have to be more open, no mat­ter what city hall, a.k.a. the Cow­town Krem­lin, thinks.

If the Olympics wants the $700 mil­lion, then they will be sub­ject to the province’s more open laws on how much the pub­lic can know.

This is some­thing Cal­gary’s city coun­cil didn’t want, those folks with a fetish for closed­door gabfests and flog­gings of out-of-line coun­cil­lors.

And, to top it off, city coun­cil won’t be able to play any tricks. A No vote means no dough. The city politi­cians can’t over­rule a No vote.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, Take Out The Trash Day for politi­cians who dump the stuff they hope peo­ple won’t read over the week­end, a new­shound asks NDP bud­get boss Smilin’ Joe Ceci about a short­fall.

The city ex­pected the province to cough up $1 bil­lion and they only man­aged $700 mil­lion.

There’s a short­fall of $300 mil­lion. Oh me, oh my.

“I’m not here to talk about how the short­fall gets met,” says Ceci, mak­ing a rare frowny com­ment.

For his part, Nen­shi says he needs to an­a­lyze the Not­ley gov­ern­ment doc­u­ment. It’s six para­graphs long.

The mayor needs to talk more to Ot­tawa and he’ll have more to say soon.

You can be sure he’s look­ing for sev­eral rab­bits to pull out of the hat. Funny thing.

Can still re­mem­ber the city’s top gun on fi­nances tell city coun­cil their next four-year bud­get is not one “where you can add a whole bunch of new things.”

The city has to do some­thing now and they hate the sight of scis­sors.

Mean­while, it looks more and more like Cal­gary might end up the only Olympic bid in the race.

Italy’s bid is in trou­ble and those run­ning Stock­holm city coun­cil just mouthed the fol­low­ing words: “The start­ing point for all our par­ties is to en­sure a Win­ter Olympics should not be on the tax­pay­ers to pay for it.”

Yes, when the dust set­tles it just might be Cal­gary. The only one left stand­ing to win the booby prize.

Ev­ery­body else will have dropped out or voted No, but the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee are bet­ting on Cal­gar­i­ans to say Yes in a month’s time.

They’ve surely sized the city up like the sales­man who picks the one mark in the crowd who will buy the snake oil ev­ery­one else sees as hokum.

Jeromy Farkas is a coun­cil­lor who has fought to pro­tect tax­pay­ers and thinks the Olympic bid has now been given the kiss of death.

Be­tween the city and Trudeau they have to find $2.3 bil­lion or cut the Olympics down even more.

“If the NDP haven’t killed the bid with this, they’ve ar­ranged the fir­ing squad,” says Farkas.

Sean Chu is the coun­cil­lor who fought for open­ness and a plebiscite when oth­ers on coun­cil ridiculed their for­mer whip­ping boy.

Chu says when Cal­gar­i­ans look at this whole deal, many will have one re­sponse.

Hell no.

POST­MEDIA file Photo

No one in power (or seek­ing it) would be sad­dened by wants to put the Cal­gary 2026 Olympic bid out of its mis­ery, writes Cal­gary Sun colum­nist Rick Bell.

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