Governments spent $17.7M on Calgary's scrapped Olympic bid: report

A total of $17.7 million was spent to explore whether or not Calgary should bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, according to the city's final report on the project.

City spent roughly half of what it had budgeted

Calgary's released a report on how much was spent on the city's ultimately abandoned Olympic bid. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Governments spent a total of $17.7 million on Calgary's scrapped bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, according to the city's final report on the project.

Initially, $30 million has been committed, with roughly a third coming from each level of government.

But the exploration was cancelled after Calgarians voted against it during a November 2018 plebiscite vote — which cost $2.2 million, $2 million from the province and the rest from the city, according to the report which is set to be presented to city council on Monday.

Calgarians voted 56.4 per cent against hosting the Games.

The city spent roughly half of what it had budgeted for bid exploration and development.

Money not wasted: councillor

"We came in under the expected amount we thought we would spend for the entire bid process," said Coun. Evan Woolley. "Council knew the risks. Calgarians knew the risks of us walking through this bid process."

Woolley says hindsight is always 20-20, and Calgarians made the right decision in the plebiscite.

But he said the money wasn't wasted and the city learned a lot from the process.

"Remember that much of the money we had to spend, we had to spend regardless of bidding on the Olympics or not. We had a significant amount of aging Olympic infrastructure, we needed to do the engineering report, we needed to get a better understanding of how sport worked in the city and we accomplished a lot of that. 

Here's how the total costs break down:

  • $4.4 million from Ottawa.
  • $4.2 million from Alberta. 
  • $4 million from Calgary, with the city spending an additional $2.7 million on the secretariat, as well as the aforementioned plebiscite costs.

A total of $400,000 from Calgary 2026 will be held in a trust for the next eight years to address any unforeseen liabilities, and then returned to the different levels of government if it's not needed. 

Can't see the chart below? Click here to take a look.

It's also not yet clear what will be done with the leftover money.

The report says a total of $3.6 million in excess funds that were advanced for the project were returned on May 31. The city received $421,000 back, the province $2.8 million, and the federal government $445,000.

Woolley said he's disappointed the money wasn't retained for Calgary sport facilities.

"It's my job to make sure that we retain as much federal, provincial government investment in the city as we can."

With files from Scott Dippel


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