Calgary council drills down on Olympic bid exploration
City administration gives outline of process, timelines, costs
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The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) will be delivering its first recommendation to council in May, and that timeline doesn’t have much wiggle room.
On Monday night, councillors got their first chance to put questions to administration on the process of gauging whether or not the city should submit a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.
Kyle Ripley, director of recreation for the city, gave an update of CBEC’s work to council, noting that it was on track despite the tight deadline. Nobody from CBEC was present.
Coun. Evan Woolley was the first to step up to the plate, asking how CBEC was engaging with provincial and federal governments on a potential bid.
Ripley explained that both levels are interested and are waiting to see the city’s preliminary numbers before making a commitment.
“They’ve not said no unequivocally at this point, because if they did we would be coming back to council,” said Ripley.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said a no from either level of government would probably put a full stop on any further exploration.
Nenshi said he raised the issue with the PM before Christmas who advised him to keep working, adding the feds would like to see the numbers.
Coun. Druh Farrell, one of the few opponents of the plan, asked about the possibility of a joint bid with Edmonton, citing the new arena there.
Nenshi spoke up at that question, explaining that the IOC is interested in bids that use venues across the country, but also look for bids to originate in a single city.
Coun. Peter Demong had concerns about the budget, because the original pitch from Calgary Sport Tourism Authority suggested up to 25 per cent of the cost would be covered by donations.
Ripley said while CBEC has received a lot of in-kind donations, including valuable advice from consultants, there had been no cash contributions yet.