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.