Will part­ner cities pay their share?

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - YOLANDE COLE

Can­more and Whistler could both play host to events for a pos­si­ble Cal­gary Win­ter Olympics, but as cost-shar­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions con­tinue the po­ten­tial price tag for the moun­tain com­mu­ni­ties re­mains a ques­tion mark.

The plan re­leased by the Cal­gary 2026 bid cor­po­ra­tion this week pro­poses Olympic events spread across Cal­gary, Can­more, Whistler, B.C., and pos­si­bly Ed­mon­ton.

Cal­gary city coun­cil voted Tues­day to con­tinue with a planned Novem­ber plebiscite on host­ing the 2026 Win­ter Olympics, with three coun­cil­lors op­posed to mov­ing ahead.

Lisa de Soto, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer with the Town of Can­more, said Can­more has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the bid cor­po­ra­tion’s mul­ti­party agree­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions with var­i­ous lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

“We’ve been a party to all of that, and those ne­go­ti­a­tions are on­go­ing and not con­cluded, so with re­gards to cost-share, there’s noth­ing I can pro­vide that’s firm or a com­mit­ment at this point in time,” de Soto said.

She said Can­more will be look­ing at what its costs would be with­out the Olympics and how host­ing the Games could help the town to com­plete com­mu­nity projects at a re­duced cost.

“We’re cer­tainly ex­pect­ing to con­trib­ute, but look­ing at the op­por­tu­nity to get gov­ern­ment fund­ing where pre­vi­ously that would have been un­cer­tain,” she said.

That in­cludes the pos­si­bil­ity of re­pur­pos­ing an ath­letes’ vil­lage in Can­more to more than dou­ble the town’s cur­rent in­ven­tory of af­ford­able hous­ing, de Soto said.

“Af­ford­able hous­ing is our No. 1 con­cern in Can­more,” she said. “We have an af­ford­able hous­ing cor­po­ra­tion that has an ob­jec­tive of build­ing over 1,000 af­ford­able hous­ing units.

“Our cur­rent in­ven­tory sits at around 200.”

Un­der the draft plan, the Can­more Nordic Cen­tre would host biathlon and cross-coun­try ski­ing events. Can­more would also host medal cer­e­monies for the Para ly mpic s—a pos­si­bil­ity the town is ex­cited by, de Soto said.

“From a com­mu­nity ac­ces­si­bil­ity per­spec­tive, we have pri­or­i­ties around mo­bil­ity and pedes­trian con­nec­tiv­ity, and see­ing the Par­a­lympics and some of the op­por­tu­ni­ties we would have to re­ally make our com­mu­nity ac­ces­si­ble from an all-users per­spec­tive is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity that would ad­vance our pri­or­ity of an ac­ces­si­ble com­mu­nity,” de Soto said.

Can­more town coun­cil is sched­uled to vote Nov. 6 on pur­su­ing a bid, just days ahead of the Nov. 13 plebiscite in Cal­gary.

“The in­tent of do­ing that in ad­vance of the Cal­gary plebiscite is to truly say that Can­more has au­ton­omy in its de­ci­sion-mak­ing, and so we won’t be in­flu­enced by the Cal­gary-area de­ci­sions,” de Soto added.

The Olympic bid pro­posal in­cludes plans for two new sports venues and re­fur­bish­ments to an ex­ist­ing 11 fa­cil­i­ties. The pub­lic por­tion of the cost amounts to $3 bil­lion, to be di­vided among mu­nic­i­pal, pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments.

The Al­berta gov­ern­ment is ex- pected to an­nounce its por­tion of the cost-shar­ing agree­ment at least 30 days be­fore the Novem­ber vote.

Whistler Mayor Nancy Wil­helm Mor­den said while “high-level dis­cus­sions” have taken place on a pos­si­ble 2026 bid, the B.C. mu­nic­i­pal­ity doesn’t yet know any spe­cific de­tails such as costs.

“Now that they’re get­ting down to the nuts and bolts, we an­tic­i­pate that there will be a pre­sen­ta­tion to our coun­cil and then we will start a process here,” she said.

Wil­helm-Mor­den said Whistler will need to ex­plore the costs in de­tail and con­sult com­mu­nity mem­bers. “There’s been no con­sul­ta­tions so far, so there are some pretty big and im­por­tant steps that have to be taken still,” she said.

The plan iden­ti­fies Whistler Olympic Park as the lo­ca­tion for ski jump­ing and Nordic com­bined events.

The Cal­gary 2026 plan does not yet iden­tify a venue for curl­ing events, but CEO Mary Mo­ran said this week a num­ber of sites are un­der dis­cus­sion, in­clud­ing lo­ca­tions in Ed­mon­ton.


Un­der the draft plan re­leased by the Cal­gary 2026 bid cor­po­ra­tion this week, the Can­more Nordic Cen­tre would host biathlon and cross-coun­try ski­ing events if Cal­gary suc­cess­fully bids for the 2026 Win­ter Olympics.


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