Not sure which way to vote in the Olympic plebiscite? Watch CBC Calgary's town hall

Calgarians had a chance to ask their Olympic bid questions to a panel of experts last night — and money was a common theme. Leading voices from both the "yes" and "no" sides landed solid points at CBC Calgary's town hall.

Panellists included Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Calgary 2026 CEO Mary Moran and Coun. Evan Woolley

CBC Calgary hosted a town hall with panellists on both sides of the 2026 Olympic bid on Wednesday evening. (Kathryn Marlow/CBC)

CBC Calgary held a town hall on the possible bid for the 2026 Olympic Games Wednesday night in advance of the Nov. 13 plebiscite.

The panel, hosted by the Calgary Eyeopener's David Gray, heard from people on both sides of the bid and took questions from the audience as well as viewers online.

A recording of the town hall can be viewed below or on CBC Calgary's Facebook page.

Panellists included:

  • Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
  • Mary Moran, CEO of Calgary 2026.
  • Coun. Evan Woolley, chair of city council's Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games assessment committee.
  • Trevor Tombe, an economist with the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy.
  • Jeanne Milne, an organizer with No Calgary Olympics.
  • David Finch, associate professor at Mount Royal University's Bissett School of Business.

The town hall was held at Calgary's new Central Library. 

In advance of the panel, audience members were asked to raise their hands and vote on whether they were in favour of a bid, against a bid, or undecided. Approximately 75 per cent of the audience seemed to be undecided on whether the city should bid. 

The issue of possible cost overruns came up several times throughout the evening.

Mary Moran said the budget includes $1 billion in contingency funds and an insurance policy that will cover a further $200 million if there are extra costs.

She also said it has been agreed that the federal government will pay for any additional security costs above what the RCMP is estimating.

"They will manage the savings and they will manage the cost overruns and they will guarantee it. And they'll sign it in December in the bid book," she said.

But Coun. Evan Woolley, who chaired council's bid assessment committee but now opposes the bid, said there's lingering uncertainty on that issue.

"We've been talking about these security costs coming from the RCMP. We've not seen a letter from them signing off on those numbers. Nobody has," he said.

Nenshi acknowledged there have been disagreements and difficulties in reaching funding agreements, but he told the audience he expects those issues will fade if Calgarians support a bid.

"Some on the no side have jumped out, but particularly on the yes side have been a little bit reluctant to come forward because they want to respect the people's choice. If the people choose yes, then we gotta have Team Canada on this and Team Alberta on this moving forward to the IOC, and I expect that will happen."


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