Calgary launches 2026 Olympic bid exploration website

Feb 3 2017, 11:39 pm

Short of launching a bid website, the team behind the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) launched a new website on whether the city should host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2026.

Dubbed “Should Calgary Bid?”, the website provides the public with a new single source for more information on the potential Olympic bid and a platform to engage in future public consultations, including an online public questionnaire that will be launched in the weeks to come.

CBEC was launched last summer after City Council approved a $5-million budget to study the feasibility of bringing back the Winter Games to the city. It is led by a 17-member volunteer-based board, chaired by former police chief Rick Hanson and with prominent members such as Tourism Calgary chair Rod McKay and retired Olympians Beckie Scott and Catriona Le May Doan, who was deeply involved in the Vancouver 2010 Bid Committee.

Hosting the Games would not only provide Calgary with a much-needed major economic and tourism boost but also be an opportunity to renew aging facilities built for the 2026 Games. Such a practice on using as many existing facilities as possible would also significantly lower the costs of the potential Games.

At this early stage of the CBEC, there is no estimated cost of what bringing back the Games to Calgary could cost, and a final report with recommendations will not be presented to City Council until July, when city councillors must make a decision on whether or not to proceed to meet Canadian Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee deadlines.

An update on the CBEC’s work was provided to City Council last week.

“This report is very general, but I have had the ability to see some of the work plans and the draft work that are coming from the consultants that have been hired and it is of very high quality,” said Nenshi during the Council meeting.

“They bring a whole variety of perspectives, hard-nosed financial analysis, along with hard-nosed sports analysis and venue analysis and it seems like they’re really on the right path here. But let’s let them do their work.”

Hosting the Games again in Calgary will likely cost billions of dollars, but only a small fraction that Russia spent on its US$52 billion Winter Games at Sochi in 2014, which was an exception rather than a norm. Comparatively, depending on what is considered as an Olympic expense, Vancouver spent approximately $10 billion on the 2010 Winter Games.

If City Council moves forward with the bid, tens of millions of dollars will need to be raised to conduct the bid. The bidding process for Vancouver 2010 from 1998 to 2003 cost $34 million, with roughly $20 million coming from levels of government and the remaining from the private sector.

Vancouver’s bid ultimately went forward following a municipal-level plebiscite over whether the city should host the Games. It was one of Vancouver’s highest electoral turnouts, receiving a ‘Yes’ vote of 64%.