From first consideration, to forming BidCo, and developing a Bid, there have been missteps, cost overruns, and a high degree of secrecy. If this keeps going, are we optimistic the missteps and secrecy will suddenly end?
May 2017: Exploration process – a committee was struck to consider the opportunities, risks and costs related to hosting the Winter Olympics again. Final Report
In an effort to provide a neutral investigation, the Report never states a reason for pursuing the Olympics.
◊ IOC reforms, widely touted as a good thing for Calgary2026, are reported as not likely to help save any costs. The Report acknowledges that the competitive process outweighs any cost advantage that might result from the Agenda 2020 reforms
◊ The Report assumes that a new arena will have been built as well as a fieldhouse. Therefore, the venue assessment does not match where Calgary2026 evaluation is mid-2018.
City of Calgary Council received the Exploration Report and approved 5 principles that Council agrees a Calgary2026 must adhere to:
- Capital costs for facilities be covered by municipal, federal and provincial governments
- Security costs be covered by other orders of government and not the city
- Canadian taxpayers not cover the operating costs of hosting the 2026 games with the belief is that ticket sales, sponsorship, broadcast rights, International Olympic Committee (IOC) contributions and other earned revenues should cover operating costs
- The city has limited debt capacity and there must be a financial structure that accommodates cash flow and the debt level constraints of the city
- If the IOC wants financial guarantees from the host city, such guarantees must be provided by someone other than the city or be at a level deemed acceptable to the city.
◊ City Council added an Olympic Oversight Committee because there were concerns that the Olympic Secretariat administration and “BidCo” would not appropriately consider the interests of Calgarians. The Oversight Committee was not accepted by all Councillors and the initial make-up of the Committee was challenged and other Councillors were later added. The entire process reflected significant skepticism that the interests of Calgarians would be protected.
◊ More than half of the Oversight Committee meetings have been held behind closed doors, creating questions and concerns about transparency. Three councillors tabled a Motion to have BidCo (now Calgary2026) be subject to FOIP. The Motion did not pass.
However, the structure of Calgary2026 results in FOIP laws not applicable. Concerning, there is no reason that Calgary2026 couldn’t simply be transparent by choice. Why will they not choose to be more transparent in their work? Why isn’t Calgary2026 structured like an “ABC” – agency, board or commission. It seems that Calgary2026 has a public purpose for Albertans and should meet those standards.
◊ The Bid has a $30 million budget and the City added $5 million to support the administration’s work in support of the Bid project.
◊ City of Calgary Olympic Secretariat committed to having full costs for Calgary2026 available in June 2018: costs aren’t be available until September 10.
◊ “Robust” citizen engagement was committed to begin June 2018: engagement has not begun. It has taken 3 months, and one process implemented and then thrown out and started again, to complete a Request for Proposal for an engagement program service provider.
From the City’s website update on Calgary2026, this process step
is still posted, yet this deadline was not met.
◊ At the end of July, after hundreds of hours of work by the Olympic Secretariat and extensive, regular briefings of the Olympic Oversight Committee of Council, one Councillor asked the simple question of why – why was Calgary pursuing hosting the Olympics? There was no answer.
◊ The September 10 City Council Meeting will include an off-ramp vote on the Agenda allowing Councillors to vote to end the bid process. If Council votes to proceed, then the full Plan for the Bid and the costs and cost-sharing information must be shared with Calgarians for at least 30 days prior to the November 13 Plebiscite. The Plan is expected to include costs however the cost sharing of the funding partners (Alberta and Canada governments) will not be known until later in September.
◊ While the Plebiscite is technically non-binding, other cities that have had citizens vote on whether or not to bid for the Olympic games have withdrawn their bids, even when support and opposition were equal. A large percentage of opposition is considered untenable, both for financing partners (other levels of government) and for the IOC to select that city.
◊ Graz, Austria; Innsbruck, Austria; Sion Switzerland; Lillehammer and Telemark, Norway have all dropped out of bidding for 2026. A dozen cities have dropped out of bidding in the past few years.
◊ Throughout the Bid process, there has been on-going panic for the deadline and requirements, every deadline and commitment have been missed, and information has been lacking and difficult to make public.