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Calgary to make Olympic decision before debating an Edmonton partnership: Nenshi

Mayor Naheed Nenshi pitches ideas on what an Olympic partnership could look like, but underlines working with Edmonton isn't a priority at this point

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson (left) stands beside Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Courtesy/ Government of Alberta

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson (left) stands beside Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

The door between Calgary and Edmonton is still open when it comes to co-hosting the Olympics, but neither side appears ready to walk through it.

On Tuesday, Edmonton released a sporting event framework, where a citizen-led group warned against bringing major events like the Olympics to Edmonton without a partner city to help.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson told reporters that the city should “go beyond chasing shiny objects."

As for co-hosting the Winter Games with Calgary in 2026, Iveson lamented that there's no will from their southern neighbours to partner.

In Calgary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he and Iveson had spoken about the issues of hosting events, and highlighted a need for a regional strategy.

“It would be difficult (for the province) to back one city and not the other,” said Iveson. “I think the time has come to be honest with ourselves. It’s not the right time to pursue these one-offs. This doesn’t close the door in partnering with Calgary, however.”​

Nenshi had some ideas about what partnerhsip could look like, as an example he brought up the London and Rio Game approach to football, and how tournaments weren't actually held in host cities, but accross the country to drum up excitement about the Olympics.

"I think the IOC is interested in innovative ideas like that," said Nenshi, he mentioned something similar could work for all the NHL arenas across the country. "Council has to make a big decision first, and the question of partnership is not something in my mind affects the big decision."

The Edmonton document warned council about going after mega-events like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, and instead made recommendations to pursue big, feasible, events every 20 to 30 years, and in the near-term focus instead on bringing smaller-scale events, like the Ice Hockey World Junior Championship.

- With files from Jeremy Simes

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