News / Calgary

City needs another $2M to keep Olympic bid rolling

Administration wants to form a bid committee in preparation for January 2019 deadline

A uniform from the 1988 Olympic torch run is seen in Calgary on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009. Calgary is looking at hosting another Winter Olympics, and a new report shows that city administration will ask for an additional $2 million to continue.

Jeff McIntosh / Calgary Staff

A uniform from the 1988 Olympic torch run is seen in Calgary on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009. Calgary is looking at hosting another Winter Olympics, and a new report shows that city administration will ask for an additional $2 million to continue.

If Calgary wants to keep pursuing an Olympic bid, the city is going to have to pony up more cash.

In a report to council, administration is giving councillors the heads up about a pending ask for additional funds "in the order of $2 million."

"The city's project team has recently become aware of several key changes to the IOC's 2026 Candidature Process which impact the city's decision-making process, timelines and budget," reads the report.

The exact amount needed will be revealed at a council meeting on Nov. 20.

When Calgary started down the road to a potential Winter Olympic bid, city council authorized up to $5 million for the creation of the bid exploration committee (CBEC), which determined pursuing a bid was feasible.

CBEC did not recommend whether or not the city should attempt a bid. It also handed back about $1.5 million of funds it did not use.

The $2 million ask from administration will be in addition to using the leftover $1.5 million from CBEC.

Administration is now telling councilors that to continue towards a bid, a bid corporation (BidCo) must be created. The BidCo would work towards submitting a formal "bid book."

That bid book would have to go to the International Olympic Committee by January 2019.

Coun. Evan Woolley, who has been skeptical but is still open minded to bid opportunities, said he'll be open to administration's latest ask.

He said it would depend on whether or not spending that money would lead to benefits for Calgarians, even if the city doesn't go through with a bid.

"If there's some value in council supporting this request (...) I'm willing to entertain that," said Woolley.

The work of CBEC was sold in part as work that needed to be done anyway: examining and providing a report on the city's aging sports infrastructure.

Woolley has said all along that the province really needs to make a firmer commitment to helping the city with a bid.

"I think the province is starting to look at this a little more seriously," he said.

The report to council also hints at the need for the province to come on board. It states that formal discussions are slated to happen by the end of November, and that the province would be part of the formal BidCo.

Although some councillors, such as Druh Farrell and Sean Chu, have warned of the potential of having the Olympics be a money pit, Woolley is still open to hearing about the economic spinoffs and potential investments that would come from hosting.

"When we invest capital money in a street or in a neighborhood, there's secondary and tertiary payoffs," he said.  

He thinks under the right conditions, the same spinoffs could come from hosting the Olympics.

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