Feds need formal request before funding decision made on Calgary Olympic bid

Ottawa wants it to be official before committing — to Calgary's potential Olympic bid.

City official says they hope to submit application in the coming days

Calgary, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, is hoping to submit a formal request for funding to the federal government this week. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa wants it to be official before committing — to Calgary's potential Olympic bid.

Calgary-Centre MP and Minister of Sport Kent Hehr says that until the city makes a formal request for federal funding, the feds can't commit dollars to a potential bid for the 2026 Games.

That creates a bit of a Catch-22 position for the city. Earlier this week, council approved $2 million in further funding to keep the bid prospects alive, but half of that cash is contingent on both the provincial and federal governments pitching in to cover the bid's overall bill — estimated at $25-30 million.

Hehr says his office is eager to evaluate an application for support but says it won't be a rubber-stamp decision.

"Our level of government is needing some details on this from the city," Hehr told CBC News.

Hehr says he wrote to Mayor Naheed Nenshi's office asking for additional information last week, but "to date, we haven't received that."

"We stand on the ready to be able to look at those documents when we receive them," he said.

Request being prepared

Kyle Ripley, director of recreation for the city, says information has been shared with Sport Canada and a formal application is being prepared, with hopes of sending it to Ottawa later this week.

"We have been working with Sport Canada for a number of months and have shared quite a bit of information with them over that time," he said.

"They're well aware of the work that we're undertaking and they've been informed all along."

Hehr said he couldn't comment on how much the federal government might contribute, without a formal application from the city.

Calgary first hosted the Olympics in 1988, which Hehr called "a great thing for our city."

"It has left such a legacy in terms of building community in Calgary and other places where this has happened. W can look at it in that positive light, yet we have to be responsible," he said. "Responsible to the citizens who have entrusted us with stewarding taxpayers' dollars."

The estimated total price tag for the Olympic games is in the area of $4.5 billion.

If the other levels of government don't formally support the bid, council will again debate moving forward in February.

The formal Games bid would need to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee by late 2018.

Stockholm, Sweden, and Innsbruck, Austria, recently decided against pursuing a bid.

With files from Sarah Lawrynuik