September 11, 2018
Calgary Deserves Better:
Taking the Off Ramp was the only sensible decision for Calgary2026
September 11. NoCalgaryOlympics is disappointed that Calgary City Council chose not to end the bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. With cost sharing unknown, City Council failed today to adhere to its own, unanimously-supported principle to ensure Calgarians won’t carry any cost overruns associated with hosting the Olympics.
If Council members were true to this principle they voted on in July 2017, they would have taken the off-ramp today.
NoCalgaryOlympics continues to hear from thousands of Calgarians who are concerned about the City’s priorities, particularly given the significant increase to economic uncertainty related to recent TransMountain pipeline decisions.
The Alberta Government has already committed $2 Billion to purchase the old pipeline, before the new TransMountain pipeline owner, the Government of Canada, has even begun to invest in the crucial and further delayed pipeline expansion. With the pipeline expansion project in doubt, and costs to be carried by taxpayers, the risks to Calgarians are substantial.
It is disappointing that City Council did not give due consideration to this current economic uncertainty, as well as cold hard facts like the 27% downtown office vacancy which is the highest in the country, high debt levels at all three levels of government, including record-high long-term debt carried by the City of Calgary which reached $3.07 Billion at year end 2017.
For many Calgarians, the costs are the major concern for hosting the Olympics, but concern is also significant regarding the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Pursuing a competitive bid caters to the interests of IOC members rather than to the needs and priorities of Calgary. It is simply bad business to enter the IOC’s host city contract that gives total control to the IOC while all of the risk is shouldered by the City. Without full and thorough information on cost plus opportunity cost, and the critical cost sharing agreement still outstanding, City Council had good reason to take the off-ramp today. Instead, today’s decision was counter to what any sensible business person would make.
Calgarians are now the last hope for protecting the interests of the City as our Council has chosen to collectively shirk its responsibility.
We look forward to seeing Calgarians cast a vote at the November 13th plebiscite aligning their priorities with the interests of our City’s future by saying ‘no’ to hosting the IOC in 2026.
September 7, 2018
Calgary’s Top Priority is Economic Recovery,
Not Hosting the IOC *
Downtown Office Vacancy of 27% Will Not Be Fixed by Calgary2026
*International Olympic Committee
Friday, September 7 City Council is facing an off-ramp decision about Calgary2026 at the same time that the TransMountain pipeline project took another blow, delaying the project indefinitely.
Daniel Gauld, founder of NoCalgaryOlympics, has been concerned about the distraction of pursuing an Olympic bid since 2026 was first considered. “I work downtown and see the drop in activity, the ‘for lease’ signs on just about every building. We have way bigger priorities in Calgary than putting on a party for the IOC.”
Calgarians are counting on their Councillors to take seriously the limited benefits of hosting the Olympics for 3 weeks in 2026. Research says that job creation claims are exaggerated, on average, 10 times in Olympic Bid Books.
Gauld continued, “It doesn’t matter if the cost is $4.6 Billion, or $5.6 Billion, or $12 Billion, these costs are a burden on all levels of government and an even bigger distraction. The dollar amount doesn’t even begin to calculate the opportunity cost – what should we have been doing while we were focusing on the Olympics instead? I’m worried for our City and the opportunity for people to find meaningful, long-lasting jobs and enjoy a vibrant downtown. I wish our City Council felt the same concern for the well-being of their City.”
Last week’s TransMountain pipeline decisions are a setback for Alberta’s economy while the Alberta Government has already committed $2 Billion to support the purchase of the existing pipeline. If the pipeline expansion project ever goes ahead, it will be taxpayers funding the much-needed, multi-billion-dollar expansion. Neither Prime Minister Trudeau or Premier Notley appeared confident in a quick resolution when they met this week.
The City of Calgary has its own list of capital project priorities and social issues and also carries over $3 Billion in long-term debt.
Gauld is baffled by Council’s willingness to even consider hosting the IOC.
“How is a megaproject for the IOC in 2026 on the priority list? How is that risk reasonable given current debt at all levels of government and today’s economic uncertainties?”
The NoCalgaryOlympics campaign, founded by Daniel Gauld, is staying focused on asking questions that Calgarians need to consider as they learn more about the Bid.
- Will Council members go against their own Principle that cost overruns won’t be carried by Calgary taxpayers when they vote on whether or not to continue with the Bid?
They will have the off-ramp vote without assurance that cost overruns will be covered by other levels of government, putting them offside their own July 2017 principle.
- How is the City meeting its own commitment to ‘robust’ citizen engagement if their 4-year budget is tabled one day after the plebiscite vote? Will citizens be asked to judge the merits and risks of a megaproject without knowing the 4-year City budget?
- How will the City fulfill its other priorities (GreenLine? Fieldhouse? New arena? Other needed infrastructure and upgrades?) while also pursuing the Olympics? What are the added resources and manpower, in addition to capital, needs by the City to complete all of these projects, simultaneously?
- How is City Council ranking the importance of Calgary2026 compared with the TransMountain pipeline expansion (both of which place significant funding pressure on the province), and against longer-term goals such as diversifying the economy and finding new business sectors to fill downtown offices?
NoCalgaryOlympics will continue to focus on the economic impact of Calgary2026, the impact of empty downtown offices on the vibrancy and economic health of our City, and the many, many other questions that should be answered before committing to a megaproject like hosting the International Olympic Committee for three weeks in 2026.
August 20, 2018
City of Calgary survey finds Calgary2026 supporters concerned about
costs, risks, and lack of information
Calgary, Alberta. A new survey generated by The City of Calgary found that only 25 percent of the 500 people surveyed had no concerns about Calgary2026. The majority, or 75%, cited concerns for costs, taxes, funding sources, and risks, with these concerns shared by both supporters and opposition to hosting the International Olympic Committee in 2026.
Since a survey conducted by the City in March 2018, little has changed: Calgarians want more information, particularly about costs, before they make a decision.
Daniel Gauld, Founder of NoCalgaryOlympics, observed, “With no information on the costs, contingency, risks, cost-sharing, and little clarity on a venue plan, it doesn’t appear Calgarians have anything behind which to place their support, much less their confidence.”
The appetite for more, even basic, information like costs is another indicator of the near crisis of timing that is upon the Calgary2026 bid process. Costs were slated to be ready in June 2018, when public engagement was to begin. There is no sign of cost information or public engagement, now two months later, yet there is a firm date of November 13 for the plebiscite.
While Calgarians have so little information on which to base their vote, it is important to know that no city has gone ahead with a bid when the ‘for’ and ‘against’ were so equally weighted. It is difficult for other levels of government to commit significant funding with limited local, public support. For the IOC to select a city in its competitive bid process, higher support from host city citizens is a key factor. Even though the plebiscite is technically non-binding, weak support is not enough to support a bid.
Calgarians surveyed who were onside with hosting cite economic impact and tourism for their support. It was not clear if Calgarians were provided the academic research that concludes hosting the Olympics has limited economic impact, particularly in terms of adding jobs. Studies show that job creation claims are typically exaggerated by 10 times. For Calgary, it is concerning that hosting the Olympics would have no impact on the city’s Canada-leading office vacancy rate, now above 25%.
In terms of tourism, the impact is also short term. Vancouver, for instance, shows tourism rates one year after the Games below the rate of tourism one year prior to the Games – the increase in tourism was a short-term blip.
This survey did not gather opinions on the plan for Calgary to carry all of the costs of hosting but with some events in Whistler, BC, and in Edmonton and Canmore, AB. The prospect of some hockey and/or curling taking place in Edmonton could affect Calgarians’ interest in carrying the costs and risks of hosting while losing the opportunity to be at these events. The survey participants who identified highlighting the city internationally as a reason to host, could be less supportive with events spread around western Canada. There continue to be more questions than answers about Calgary2026.
Link to Poll: https://pub-calgary.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=64461
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mary Moran, CEO July 31, 2018
Dear Ms. Moran,
Congratulations on your new role with Calgary2026. We’re pleased to welcome you to the conversation.
Our growing group of Calgarians is eager to hear answers to questions about which we are extremely concerned. As someone who also loves Calgary, we are confident you share these concerns and will give them due consideration.
Will you ensure that the citizens of Calgary are not solely responsible for cost overruns, honouring principle #5 approved by City Council on July 31st, 2017 that states:
5. 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 ?
Do you have concern for the City of Calgary signing a contractual relationship with the International Olympic Committee? How are you evaluating the reputational risk of doing business with an entity that has taken a soft stance against Russia, against doping, and has a history of ethical black marks through its bidding and business processes?
Is now the time to take your attention away from the objective of diversifying and strengthening Calgary’s economy and onto a three-week event that will not have meaningful impact on downtown office vacancy or permanent, high-paying jobs?
Our Calgary Council has agreed that they will not pursue an Olympic bid if the risks or costs are too great. We hope that you make the same commitment as you evaluate a potential bid.
On behalf of many concerned Calgarians,
“Unless the following five conditions are met, city officials say the city should not go forward with a bid:
1. Capital costs for facilities be covered by municipal, federal and provincial governments
2. Security costs be covered by other orders of government and not the city
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2018
No Calgary Olympics scores a hattrick:
‘No Boston’ campaign support, other 2026 bid cities dropping out,
and declining support in Calgary
Calgary, Alberta. The No Calgary Olympics campaign is building momentum, through support from previous, successful “No” campaigns, impact of other cities dropping out, and reduced support from Calgarians and other Albertans.
Chris Dempsey, leader of No Boston Olympics and current Director of Transportation for Massachusetts, this week offered his support to No Calgary Olympics campaign leaders, Daniel Gauld and Erin Waite.
“The facts, reality and history of hosting the Olympics are on the ‘no’ side. And I agree with your message about Calgary’s pattern that we also saw in Boston: the more citizens learn about hosting the Olympics, the more they decide it isn’t worth the risk,” observed Dempsey.
Sharing his strategies for a successful ‘no’ campaign, Dempsey commented to Gauld and Waite that recent decisions by Graz, Austria and the Valais region of Switzerland to drop their bids for the 2026 games should be a concern to both Calgary bid proponents and the IOC.
“When citizens are given a say, they are choosing not to be involved with the IOC,” Dempsey said.
The No Calgary Olympics Campaign believes recent polling results that show a drop in support for Calgary2026 are significant.
“With City Council and BidCo getting off to a slow start, most people anticipated support to increase. But the fact that support is falling could mean IOC-promised reforms aren’t enough. The costs and risks for a city like Calgary, just beginning an economic recovery, are too much,” reflected Gauld.
Waite added, “We’re just a few days after Stampede. We know Calgarians love a great community event and celebration. But spending billions of dollars to host the IOC for three weeks just isn’t a sensible choice. There are so many other ways to build a great city.”
Momentum is building for the campaign theme #whatelse2026. It is sparking conversation and responses from Calgarians are pouring in. A common concern is that City Council will lose sight of Calgary’s bigger priorities, like economic diversity, if it continues to pursue hosting the IOC.
People are interested in a different vision for their city. Saying to Calgarians that ‘it’s the Olympics or nothing’ sells the City short. It’s disappointing that some Olympics proponents are suggesting Calgarians don’t have the creativity or entrepreneurial spirit to generate other opportunities.
No Calgary Olympics and its supporters are optimistic about Calgary’s prospects, and about the energy and drive Calgarians exhibit. Directing those qualities to what the City of Calgary needs, rather than to winning votes from the IOC, offers the potential for a brighter future and more resilient city.
For more information about No Calgary Olympics, go to nocalgaryolympics.org or call:Erin Waite, Communications Lead, No Calgary Olympics — 403 804-6100
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 13, 2018.
Calgarians who love the City of Calgary and are as passionate as anyone about the Olympic Spirit, are cautioning citizens and City Councillors against pursuing the role of Olympic host city in 2026.
Calgary was a successful Olympic city in 1988 and that legacy continues to be felt today. But today, security costs alone are more than double the cost of the entire Olympics in 1988. The change in scale of the Olympics from 1988 to 2026 render the events incomparable.
Calgary’s success in 1988 has no bearing on the decision today to pursue the 2026 Olympics.
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. With today’s standing estimate of $4.6 Billion, it is highly likely the final cost will range between $9.2 Billion and $13.8 Billion.
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.
For Calgarians who continue to weather poor economic conditions and extensive under- or unemployment, increased taxes for years to come is a significant burden and risk.
But what has been lost in all of the analysis and discussion is a look at the Opportunity Cost. What else should the City of Calgary and Calgarians support? What will happen to the needed investments in other aspects of our community – in health, education, the environment and, most prominent for most Calgarians, economic diversity?
Host cities of Olympics are proven to have little, long-term economic benefit. Even tourism is only boosted for a short-term and actually can experience a drop in tourism within one or two years post-Olympics. Employment will be limited to project-related construction and then low-paying service and retail sector jobs.
Finally, while we will continue to loudly cheer for Canadian Olympic athletes, we cannot support investing with the IOC, with its extensive and continuing poor record for ethical practices and social responsibility. No matter what the cost of hosting an Olympics, or what continued exploration determines, the IOC will benefit while citizens of Calgary carry all of the risk. At this time in Calgary’s history, that is unsupportable.
Let’s cheer for our 2026 Canadian Olympic team wherever in the world they compete.
But let’s not risk the economic and social health of our City.