Calgary

'We are not responsible for cost overruns': federal sport minister sends message to Calgary

The announcement came two days after Calgary city councillors voted to keep the city's 2026 Olympic bid alive after hours of heated discussion.

Calgarians vote Nov. 13 in a non-binding plebiscite on whether they want to bid for the 2026 Games

Minister of Sport Kirsty Duncan said Friday the federal government will not be responsible for any cost overruns if Calgary is selected to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

If Calgary hosts the 2026 Olympics and the Games go over budget, don't call on Ottawa for help.

That was the message from the federal government on Friday afternoon.

"The next step will be that plebiscite. We'll look forward to what Calgarians have to say," said federal Minister of Sport Kirsty Duncan.

"And within our federal hosting policy, we are not responsible for cost overruns."

The announcement came two days after Calgary city councillors voted to keep the city's 2026 Olympic bid alive after hours of heated discussion.

The next challenge comes Nov. 13 when Calgarians will vote on a non-binding plebiscite to determine the bid's future.

On Tuesday it appeared that the bid was going to be cancelled.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi had sent a letter to the provincial and federal government's saying that unless a funding agreement could be reached over the weekend, he was going to ask the bid be scrapped.

An eleventh-hour agreement was then reached late Tuesday evening, leading to Wednesday's marathon meeting.

The new funding agreement, which was sparse on details, showed a reduced bid budget. Rather than $3 billion originally required by public funds, the organization said it had trimmed costs and now required $2.875 billion.

It breaks down as follows:

  • $1.423 billion coming from the feds.
  • $700 million from the province.
  • Calgary's kick-in is envisioned at $370 million in cash, plus $150 million in improvements to Stampede Park and an estimated $20 million to cover the premium on a $200 million insurance policy for cost overruns.

Calgary 2026 BidCo CEO Mary Moran also told council the federal government — through the minister of public safety — will cover any security costs above what is currently budgeted.

Moran said the new deal was made possible by cutting contingencies, including a lowered estimate of how much security would cost and a reduction in housing needed for workers.

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