Calgary to continue Olympic bid
CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO CONTINUE WORK ON POSSIBLE 2026 OLYMPIC BID
Calgary has pulled back from killing a bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games. City council was steering towards an off-ramp last week, but changed course and voted 9-6 in favour of continued work on a potential bid Monday.
“I’m really happy that councillors . . . really spent a ton of time over the weekend considering their position, analyzing themselves, asking themselves questions about whether they were doing the right thing or not,” Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said.
“I was really encouraging my council colleagues to think about the big picture, about what we’d be giving up if we stop now.”
The city will continue establishing a bid corporation, developing a public engagement campaign and planning a plebiscite for later this year.
The proposed makeup of the bid corporation’s board of directors includes representation from Calgary and Canmore, the federal and provincial governments, the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees and Indigenous communities.
Nenshi didn’t want the city to bail on a bid before the financial picture becomes clear or before Calgarians have a chance to say what they think.
But some councillors were becoming uncomfortable with what they felt was a lack of clear information from city administration. A vote on a slate of motions keeping a bid on the table barely passed 8-6 in March.
Councillors on a priority and finance committee voted 9-1 last week in favour of putting continued work on a bid to another vote.
Sensing a bid was in jeopardy, Olympic and Paralympic athletes who live and train in the Calgary area began campaigning via letters and social media messages to councillors.
Calgary’s chamber of commerce joined them saying Calgarians deserve to see the outcome of more rigorous exploration of a bid.
“We’re happy we’ve lived to fight another day, although council has brought up some really important comments,” Olympic bobsledder Seyi Smith said Monday outside city council chambers.
“The onus is really on us, the community, to make sure we do this properly.
“Now that the bidco is going to be put together, whoever is on that committee, the entire city, our province, the country is going to be looking at you specifically. Can you do this right? We just hope you can.”
Calgary was the host city of the 1988 Winter Olympics. Council heard Monday getting another 30 years out of the ’88 legacy facilities will cost between $200 million and $250 million.
Nenshi has indicated a successful Calgary bid could bring in much-needed infrastructure money from the province and the feds.