Olympic plebiscite overwhelmingly supported by Calgary city council

The window for holding a plebiscite on hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics, which is expected to cost $2 million, will be between October and February.

Councillors also approved a public engagement strategy in lead up to a vote

Fans cheer and wave flags as the Canadian delegation, lower right, parades during the opening ceremony of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. (Jonathan Utz/AFP/Getty Images)

Calgary city council voted overwhelmingly on Monday to hold a plebiscite on whether or not it should pursue an Olympic bid. 

The only councillor to oppose the plan was longtime Olympic skeptic Druh Farrell. 

Last week, council voted nine to six to continue exploring the possibility of Calgary hosting another winter Olympics in 2026.

"My thought is that if council endorses a plebiscite, we can start doing some of the backroom work on it to ensure that the processes and procedures are in place," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said earlier on Monday.

The window for holding a plebiscite, which is expected to cost $2 million, will be between October and February.

Council did not make any decisions Monday on funding the public vote. 

The plebiscite is a condition set by the province for continued funding.

Council also approved a public engagement strategy on Monday. Several councillors were unhappy with it when the plan was first unveiled earlier this month.

Coun. Jeromy Farkas was particularly concerned with the Olympics bid page on the city's website, which he said only touted the benefits of an Olympic bid, but not the costs or risks.

"The best decision is going to be one that includes all Calgarians' perspectives but also has the city playing a neutral role rather than being a cheerleader for this," Farkas said.

Council will also set up a special sub-committee which will focus on Olympics issues.

A decision on a host city will be made by the IOC in September 2019.