Calgary city council votes to stay in bid game for 2026 Olympics

City council voted Monday to stay in the marathon that could lead to a 2026 Winter Olympic Games bid from Calgary.

Forming bid corporation to go after games could cost $25-30M, bid committee says

In a report, administration states that some changes in the International Olympic Committee's processes will affect the city's workplan in 2018. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

City council voted Monday to stay in the marathon that could lead to a 2026 Winter Olympic Games bid from Calgary.

City administrators plan to return to council next week with an ask of up to $2 million to continue the work on the process, but some councillors doubt the wisdom of proceeding.

Coun. Druh Farrell said she has plenty of concerns about the financial cost to the city if it is awarded the games.

"You've highlighted the benefits. In fact, there's a whole presentation on them. I see no detail on risks," said Farrell.

She also said she's concerned the International Olympic Committee (IOC) may sweeten the financial pot to lure Calgary into bidding because the list of cities wanting to deal with the IOC seems to be shortening.The latest city to say no to the Olympic movement is a former two-time host of the Winter Games, Innsbruck, Austria.

A potential bid for the 2026 Winter Games was rejected by voters in a referendum last month.

"Are we going to be the only one wanting to date the IOC, at the end of the day, because everyone sees the relationship as toxic?" Farrell asked.

Coun. Peter Demong went a step further in voicing his concerns about the process.

"It scares the crap out of me to think what's going to happen over the next six months to a year, with regards to what's going to happen, what changes they're going to say, what different road maps we're going to use," said Demong.

IOC changes timeline

Administrators say the IOC has changed the timeline somewhat and that may require the city to form a bid corporation early in 2018.

The city was expected to form a bid corporation later in the new year and then have until sometime in late 2019 to present a formal bid book to the IOC.

That timeframe has now been adjusted.

The bid book should be completed by late in 2018 and must be submitted to the IOC in January 2019.

"They take about a year to do. So we have to move a little more quickly than we thought we would if we want to move forward," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

A formal bid is expected to cost $25-30 million dollars.

Council voted 10-4

In a presentation to council on Monday, director of recreation Kyle Ripley said the risks to the city of getting the Olympics have decreased because of changes that are being made by the IOC.

​Council voted 10-4 to have administration report back next week with a formal request for additional funding.

However, council also requested that administration ask the federal and provincial governments whether they would be willing to share equally in the cost of a formal Olympic bid.

In the report to council, administration said no other order of government is advising the city to not proceed with a bid.

The city has already spent $3 million on the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee. It concluded another Calgary Olympics is feasible but there are concerns that must be dealt with to ensure that going after the event would be prudent.


Scott Dippel

Politics Reporter

Scott Dippel has been at CBC News for more than two decades across four provinces. His roles have included legislative reporter, news reader, assignment editor and national reporter. When not at Calgary's City Hall, it's still all politics, all the time.