Plebiscite will be ‘fi­nal ar­biter’ on Olympic bid

Coun­cil­lor Evan Woolly said Cal­gar­i­ans will have last word on whether city would con­tinue to pur­sue the Win­ter Games Ad­vo­cates back Filder­brandt call for mar­i­juana par­dons


Coun­cil­lor Evan Wool­ley pledged Tues­day that Cal­gar­i­ans will have the last word on whether the city should pro­ceed with a bid to host the 2026 Win­ter Olympics.

“The plebiscite will be the fi­nal ar­biter of whether we make a de­ci­sion to do this or not,” said Wool­ley, who chairs the city’s Olympic over­sight com­mit­tee.

Al­though the vote would be non-bind­ing, Wool­ley said it would be a chal­lenge to pur­sue the Games if Cal­gar­i­ans re­jected the bid through a plebiscite.

“I cer­tainly could not sup­port that,” he said.

City ad­min­is­tra­tion told the com­mit­tee Tues­day that cost es­ti­mates would be re­fined sev­eral times over the com­ing months be­fore the Olympic bid book is sub­mit­ted Jan. 1.

Ac­cord­ing to the city’s bid ex­plo­ration com­mit­tee, host­ing the Games would cost an es­ti­mated $4.6 bil­lion. How­ever, ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­peat­edly warned coun­cil that num­ber will rise once in­fla­tion and ad­di­tional venue costs are tal­lied.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion told the com­mit­tee it would present up­dated op­er­at­ing and cap­i­tal bud­gets in less than a month.

Wool­ley said vot­ers would have a “very, very clear un­der­stand­ing” of the costs as­so­ci­ated with the Olympics be­fore hold­ing a plebiscite, which is pro­jected to cost about $2 mil­lion.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted $10 mil­lion to­ward the cre­ation of a $30-mil­lion Olympic Bid Cor­po­ra­tion on the con­di­tion the city hold a plebiscite. The city and fed­eral gov­ern­ments each chipped in a third of the cost.

The over­sight com­mit­tee heard Tues­day that the city has spent $5.2 mil­lion to date on Olympic work, in­clud­ing $3 mil­lion on the bid ex­plo­ration com­mit­tee. That money falls un­der the $30-mil­lion en­ve­lope al­lo­cated to the Olympic Bid Cor­po­ra­tion.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion will present sev­eral op­tions on the word­ing and tim­ing of the plebiscite, as well as a non­statu­tory pub­lic hear­ing, at the May 29 meet­ing of the over­sight com­mit­tee.

“Lead­ing up to that plebiscite, we will have a num­ber of en­gage­ments with Cal­gar­i­ans on a whole breadth of is­sues,” Wool­ley said. “The non­statu­tory pub­lic hear­ing is an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to come and speak … about their opin­ions on things.

“We are com­mit­ted to an open and en­gag­ing process … that we will be do­ing in a much more in­ten­tional way in the com­ing months,” he said. A na­tional ad­vo­cacy group is back­ing MLA Derek Filde­brandt’s call to grant full par­dons to Cana­di­ans con­victed of sim­ple mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion.

Filde­brandt, an in­de­pen­dent MLA, raised the is­sue in Al­berta’s leg­is­la­ture Mon­day, ask­ing the gov­ern­ment to pres­sure Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau to grant par­dons as the is­sue falls un­der fed­eral ju­ris­dic­tion.

“That would be awe­some if they could do that, if they could ex­ert a lit­tle bit of pres­sure on the prime min­is­ter to get that ball rolling,” said Carolyn Tinglin, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Cannabis Pro­fes­sion­als. Tinglin said Black Cana­di­ans and other marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties have been dis­pro­por­tion­ately con­victed of cannabis crimes and are still WWW.THES­TAR.COM suf­fer­ing the so­cial and fi­nan­cial con­se­quences.

“The bot­tom line is, we are dis­cred­it­ing and fur­ther marginal­iz­ing in­di­vid­u­als when we’re sit­ting in an en­vi­ron­ment where cannabis is le­gal and yet they are still af­fected,” she said. Tinglin said Al­berta’s re­tail reg­u­la­tions are more eq­ui­table than in other prov­inces, as the Al­berta gov­ern­ment has stated that a mi­nor mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion charge will not au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­ify some­one from own­ing a cannabis shop.

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Coun­cil­lor Evan Wool­ley says al­though the vote would be non-bind­ing, it would be a chal­lenge to pur­sue the Games if Cal­gar­i­ans re­jected the bid through a plebiscite.


Derek Filde­brandt wants the Al­berta gov­ern­ment to pres­sure Justin Trudeau into grant­ing pot par­dons.

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