Calgary

Calgary council should vote to halt Olympic process this week, anti-bid group argues

A pro-Olympics group has estimated the cost of hosting at $5.8B

September 10, 2018

Erin Waite is with No Calgary Olympics. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

A group opposed to Calgary hosting the 2026 Winter Olympic Games said it hopes city council will vote to quash the bid when the draft plan is discussed on Tuesday.

"It's a bad deal for Calgary," said Erin Waite, communications lead for No Calgary Olympics.

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On Thursday, the pro-Olympics group Yes Calgary 2026 released its own cost estimate of $5.8 billion for the games. The group said it believes $2.5 billion in revenue is possible, which would make the net cost $3.3 billion.

Waite said in her mind, those unofficial numbers only raise more questions.

"It is appropriate for our city council to take the off ramp when they have that opportunity," said Waite.

Waite said her frustrations don't lie with city council, but rather the International Olympic Committee, whose competitive bid structure she feels forces cities to compete for something that may not even be to their benefit.

"I'm frustrated with the structure of an IOC bid process that we are in this position to be absolutely panicked and to be concerned that we're not even going to have cost information and understand what a bid looks like before having to vote on it," she said. 

A council vote to halt the project would mean there would no longer be a need for a non-binding plebiscite — currently planned for Nov. 13 — which would ask Calgarians if they want the bid to go ahead.

In advance of Tuesday's meeting, Yes Calgary 2026 held a trio of events at community centres around the city to try and drum up support.

Christina Smith competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics in bobsled. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Bobsledder Christina Smith competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics and said singing in the choir during the 1988 Olympics was what lit her spark to compete.

"Because of that moment, it ignited such a drive to become an Olympian," she said

Smith said the cost, while big, could bring Calgary sports facility upgrades and a much-needed new fieldhouse.

"Sign the dotted line, we get IOC money that will help us with many other upgrades," she said.

With files from Terri Trembath

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