Our guide to voting on Calgary’s Olympic bid
With one week to decide, here’s what’s at stake
Former Olympic heavyweight out in support thestar.com
It’s been a tumultuous couple of weeks for Calgary’s 2026 Olympics bid, but the quest to throw the city’s hat in the ring for another Winter Games is still on — and so is the plebiscite where Calgarians will weigh in on whether they want to be a repeat host.
With the Nov. 13 vote day looming, and with advance voting on Tuesday and Wednesday, here’s
Why do Calgarians have to vote on this?
When the Calgary Olympic Bid Corp. (often known as BidCo, or Calgary 2026) was created earlier this year — with joint funding from the city, province and Ottawa — one of the conditions for funding from the Alberta government was holding a plebiscite. Calgary city council set Nov. 13 as the official date in July.
How much will Games cost?
Calgary 2026 presented its draft hosting plan at the beginning of September. At the time, the group said the Olympics would cost $5.23 billion, with $3 billion coming from public funds shared by the city, province and feds. The rest comes from private investment and revenue from ticket sales, and the IOC is slated to chip in $925 million (U.S.).
Last week, BidCo presented a reworked budget after the three levels of government couldn’t come to a final agreement on how to split that cost. Now, BidCo says the Games will cost $5.1 billion and governments need to contribute $2.875 billion.
How much will Calgary pay?
According to a funding proposal currently on the table, Calgary is on the hook for a little less than $400 million: $370 million in cash, plus an additional $20 million to purchase an insurance policy.
The agreement proposes counting the $200-million value of that insurance, plus $150 million already slated for investment in access improvements to the Stampede grounds, as part of the city’s contribution.
The mathematical gymnastics
are necessary to meet the federal government’s policy for hosting international sport events, which limits it to covering up to 50 per cent of the total public-sector contribution to the event.
With the Alberta government offering a firm $700 million for a 2026 bid, the city needed to find a way to increase its contribution to be able to access about $1.4 billion in matching funds from the feds.
Both the provincial and federal governments say a “yes” vote in the plebiscite is a condition of offering the Olympic funding.
Where would Olympic events be held?
Calgary, Canmore and Nakiska would be the primary 2026 hosts, but BidCo is proposing putting ski jumping and Nordic combined at the Whistler, B.C., ski jumps. Possible locations for curling are still up in the air.
What would Calgary get from hosting?
The draft hosting plan proposes refurbishing several Calgary venues, including the BMO Centre, McMahon Stadium and the Saddledome. The plan would also see a new mid-sized arena with a capacity
of up to 6,000 people and a fieldhouse.
BidCo says athletes’ villages in Canmore and Calgary would also be converted into housing after the Games. The housing commitment was cut by 1,000 units in BidCo’s updated budget, but it says 710 housing units — a mix of market, attainable and affordable housing — would be built in Calgary.
What are the risks of hosting?
Economists and Olympic experts are wary of the possibility of cost overruns. University of Alberta social sciences professor Stacy Lorenz and University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe have both said security costs could be especially worrisome.
Where do I vote?
The city has information about where to find polling stations at calgary.ca/vote2018, or you can call 311. There are advance voting stations in all 14 of the city’s wards, and Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary are also hosting vote stations on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
Calgary 2026 Olympic bid supporters listen to speeches during a rally on Monday.
Protesters opposed to Calgary’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics wait for city council to decide whether the bid will go forward on Oct. 31.
Bill Myers, acting leader of elections and census at the City of Calgary, demonstrates the tabulator machine that will count ballots for the Nov. 13 Olympics plebiscite.