Stampede cancellation will rip about $500M from Alberta economy

Alberta will lose out on more than half a billion dollars due to the cancellation of this year's Calgary Stampede. 

10-day celebration impacts everyone from cab drivers to restaurants to hotels

Crowds walk along the midway during the Calgary Stampede in Calgary on July 8, 2018. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Alberta will lose out on more than half a billion dollars due to the cancellation of this year's Calgary Stampede. 

That's the provincial economic impact, according to the Conference Board of Canada, and it affects everyone from cab drivers, to hotels to restaurants and bars. 

The Stampede's year-round events contribute about $110.9 million to Calgary's GDP, the board says, and the 10-day celebration welcomes over one million visitors. 

"Tourism is $2 billion annually to the city of Calgary and the summer season, if you will, that's where the majority of that happens," said Cindy Ady, the CEO of Tourism Calgary, speaking on the Eyeopener

Ady says many businesses linked to tourism pull in a significant amount of their yearly income during the July event. 

Local businesses

One of those businesses is Vagabond, a pub just across the street from the Stampede grounds. 

Darren Moulds, the owner, says he makes 30 per cent of his yearly income during that time. 

"It just sucks because you grind away all year and you go through these bad months where there's nothing happening," he said. 

"It's one thing you dread to look forward to because it's so busy and so much work, but the payoff at the end is so good."

Another group affected by the Stampede cancellation are chuckwagon crews.

"It'll be a big economic impact to drivers themselves," said driver Codey McCurrach.

"But it's something that every business in Canada is dealing with right now." 

More than just Stampede

The Stampede, of course, isn't the only major event to pull up stakes in recent weeks. Sled Island and the Calgary Folk Fest, both big music events, have also called cancelled. So, too, has the Calgary Expo. 

According to a 2016 study, the folk fest alone brought in about $6.6. million to the local economy. 

But Ady says it's not just dollars and cents that is lost, it's community and celebration. 

She said things likely won't be the same when the pandemic passes and businesses will need to evolve. She thinks we'll look back on innovations and new industries and say "that began during COVID, they started that during COVID."

Ady also says her organization is preparing for that future and already planning for what could happen in the winter. 

With files from Andrew Brown and the Calgary Eyeopener.


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