Calgary decision to bid on Expo 2017 surprises Edmonton

A last-minute announcement from Calgary Friday that it wants to host Expo 2017 has surprised the chairman of Edmonton's bid committee, Tony Franceschini.

A last-minute announcement from Calgary Friday that it wants to host Expo 2017 has surprised the chairman of Edmonton's bid committee, Tony Franceschini.

"It's just too bad it's our neighbours to the south. It would have been better if they weren't thinking of doing the same thing," Franceschini said. 

Canadian cities interested in hosting the world fair had to notify the federal government of their intentions by May 29.  Calgary made its announcement just before the deadline.

In contrast, Edmonton started work on its Expo 2017 bid in the fall of 2007 when it approved work on a preliminary study. In October, city council officially gave the go-ahead to start detailed work on a bid.

The Edmonton bid committee always expected other Canadian cities would join the race but it wasn't expecting to compete against Calgary, Franceschini said.

"It was a bit of a surprise."

Calgary is putting together a bid committee. 

Calgary Ald. John Mar said he hoped the winning city is chosen fairly.

"I'm hoping what's going to happen is a fair and proper process is put into place where both cities will be able to compete in a fair basis and an equal basis and the best city will win," Mar said. "After that, just like in the playoffs, once your team gets knocked out, you end up cheering for the other team."

Formal bids have to be submitted to the federal government by Nov. 30. Only one city will be chosen to represent Canada, as only countries can submit bids. Hamilton was also interested.

Expos are awarded and regulated by the Bureau International des Exposition based in France.