Local campaign wants Calgarians to say 'Yes' to the 2026 Olympics

Jul 18 2018, 10:19 pm

Calgary’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics is still a long ways off, but a group of Calgarians have taken it upon themselves to act as vocal advocates for the games coming back to the city.

Yes Calgary 2026 hosted an informal information session on Tuesday, with over 300 people attending at the iconic WinSport facility.

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The information session included pre-produced videos featuring Olympic-level athletes, speeches, and a question and answer session.

Jason Ribeiro of Yes Calgary 2026 opened the session by stating that the Olympics would bring more than just economic gain to the city should Calgary ultimately be chosen to host.

“The legacy that was built here is the envy of the international community, and leveraging these facilities in 2026 would tell a story of innovation and vision not just to winter sports enthusiasts, but to leaders from around the world,” Ribeiro said on Tuesday.

The City of Calgary has decided to host a city-wide plebiscite sometime this November, asking the people of Calgary if they would be for or against the city making a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

“It is our collective responsibilities to go into our communities and listen to both the hopes and concerns of our neighbours, and ensure that the decision we collectively make in November is one that is ultimately in the best interest of our city,” Ribeiro said.

“Should we host in 2026, we’ll have the opportunity to make the Winter Olympics and Paralympics truly our games, however our time for dialogue, for positivity, and for building a sound business case begins now.”

Ribeiro also stated that he believes Calgary could stay within budget for the 2026 Games, due in part to the existence of facilities left over from when the city hosted the Winter Olympics back in 2026.

The WinSport Canada Olympic Park would need some maintenance if its tracks, jumps, and hills were to be used again internationally eight years from now, but many of the 30-year-old structures remain operational.

However, another grassroots groups called No Calgary Olympics is taking a stand against a potential 2026 bid, stating that the cons far outway the pros if Calgary were to host another Winter Games.

“From the initial work of the Bid Exploration Committee to debates within City Council, cost estimates are far from clear. However, the evidence from every previous Olympic games is that the cost will be double or triple the estimate, eight years out,” a release from No Calgary Olympics states.

The city’s recent recession is another concern for the group, as they state that Calgary should be more focused on growth and renewed prosperity than on 17 days of games in 2026.

“Calgarians need to understand that each level of government will be incurring debt to support the 2026 Olympics in Calgary, which results in Calgarians having tax increases municipally, provincially and federally.”

City Council met on Tuesday and voted in favour of an additional $5.1 million to go towards deciding on whether or not to make the 2026 bid — the funding coming from the city budget savings, rather than the $30 million dedicated to covering the cost of the bid.

Most of the $5 million will be going towards readying the city for the upcoming plebiscite.

The estimated cost of the games will not be released by the City until sometime this September, which is also when Calgary will begin public engagement to ready voters for the November plebiscite.

Members of the International Olympic Committee are scheduled to arrive in Calgary for a meeting with members of City Council’s Olympic Committee on July 24.