Calgary Olympic bid corp. CEO says cards still on table between city, province and feds

Calgary BidCo CEO Mary Moran made the comments Sunday at an open house held in Banff, Alta.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi reportedly penned letter to Ottawa saying he'll ask bid be scrubbed over funding row

Calgary BidCo CEO Mary Moran speaks at an open house in Banff on Sunday. (Kate Adach/CBC)

The head of Calgary's 2026 Olympic bid corporation says all parties remain at the negotiating table despite media reports that Mayor Naheed Nenshi sent a letter to Ottawa saying he will ask city council to scrub the potential bid if a cost-sharing agreement can't be worked out over the weekend.

Calgary BidCo CEO Mary Moran made the comments on Sunday at an open house in Banff, Alta.

"We're asking the government of Canada to split $3 billion and you heard a lot in the media about this, this weekend, which was a leak," she said.

"So you can just be assured we're still negotiating with all orders of government, they're all at the table."

Provincial and civic officials were apparently upset by a federal announcement made Friday evening, which said Ottawa will contribute up to $1.75 billion in 2026 dollars — equating to $1.5 billion today — in matching funds toward the Winter Games.

The province has said it would contribute $700 million toward the Games and Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci emphasized that the amount wasn't based on a 50/50 arrangement.

The city hasn't revealed its funding plan yet, however, based on the other two orders of government, Calgary will have to contribute $800 million to get the maximum federal contribution.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci accused the federal government of "moving the goalposts" around funding if Calgary is chosen to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. (Manuel Carrillos Avalos/CBC)

Ceci told reporters on Saturday that the federal government had "moved the goalposts in the fourth quarter," and referred to the announcement as being in "bad faith."

"For the past number of weeks, along with the City of Calgary, we have been negotiating with the federal government in what we thought was good faith," Ceci told reporters at the Alberta NDP's convention in Edmonton on Saturday.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi sent a letter to Ottawa saying if a funding agreement can't be reached over the weekend he will move to scrap the city's possible 2026 Olympic bid. (City of Calgary)

Postmedia reported Saturday that Nenshi penned a letter to Ottawa on Friday, saying he will ask council to scrap the bid unless a funding consensus can be reached over the weekend.

The city's Olympic assessment committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday and council is set to meet for a strategy session on Wednesday.

Premier Rachel Notley's office confirmed it received a copy of the letter Friday night, but would not elaborate on the contents.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday afternoon, Notley reiterated the province has been operating under three parameters —  there has to be transparency, a plebiscite has to be held, and if Calgarians vote yes, the province will offer support in a "fiscally prudent manner."

Calgarians will vote in a plebiscite Nov. 13.

Nenshi unavailable

A Calgary city councillor, who asked not to be named, said an email was sent from Nenshi's office to members of council about 11 p.m. Saturday containing a copy of the letter, with instructions it remain confidential.

A spokesperson in Nenshi's office said the mayor would not be available to reporters on Sunday.

Others on Calgary city council took to social media to express dismay at apparently being left out of the loop on the file.

"I have long said that publicly negotiating a multiparty deal to host the Olympics was not a smart move, and stood to show disorganization and dissent in the ranks," wrote Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek on Twitter.

"We should have had all orders of government in agreement before announcing intent to bid. Instead, we have witnessed a disjointed effort at negotiations running concurrent to preparing a bid. I appreciate the work of the City Secretariat and Calgary2026, and I am disappointed that their efforts have been sabotaged by governments and leaks."


LIVE EVENT: CBC Calgary Olympic Games Plebiscite Town Hall

If you live in Calgary, find out what you need to know before you cast your vote in the Nov. 13 plebiscite by coming to the CBC Calgary Olympic Games Plebiscite Town Hall. It'll take place at Calgary's new Central Library (800 3rd St. S.E.) on Wednesday, Nov. 7, starting at 6 p.m.

Featuring a knowledgeable panel and hosted by the Calgary Eyeopener's David Gray, we will hear from both sides and take questions from the audience. Panellists will include Calgary 2026 CEO Mary Moran, economist Trevor Tombe and other guests, still to be named. 

This event is free but you must must reserve your spot. Tickets are available here

Can't make it in person? Join our Facebook Live at facebook.com/cbccalgary, where you can ask questions and post comments. You can also listen in on CBC Radio One (99.1 FM or 1010 AM in Calgary), at cbc.ca/calgary or your CBC Radio App from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. MT.


With files from Kate Adach