Why are you saying ‘No’?
There are many reasons to be concerned about being a host city. And these concerns are distinct from whether a person supports the Olympics and sport. The IOC has structured a bid process and then a host city relationship that puts undue risk on that host city. There is a reason that every Olympics has had cost overruns. Finally, for Calgary in 2018, it’s not clear that hosting the IOC for three weeks in 2026 is the right goal at the right time.
Who are you?
We are two citizens (Dan Gauld and Erin Waite) who are taking the lead on this campaign, plus a number of citizens who have connected with us to get involved. More info is at About Us
There are many prominent, respected Olympic athletes and other Calgarians excited to host the Olympics. Why is that?
It is easy to get excited about the Olympics and it is absolutely true that the 1988 Olympics was a great experience for the city. Our campaign acknowledges both of these points. But we can’t think about those benefits, and the fun, without also thinking about the costs and the risks. We have not seen those same people who want to host an Olympics articulate those risks or how they propose managing and mitigating them. This is not sensible with a multi-billion dollar investment.
Would the ‘No’ side ever move to a ‘Yes’ position?
Yes, we would. For most of us it would have to be two major changes: the IOC would have to change structurally. Right now the IOC has all of the benefit and all of the control while the host city has all of the risk and none of the control. The second major change would have to be a way to truly reduce the scale and cost of hosting corresponding with a shared risk with other parties. Until those changes occur, we say ‘let’s celebrate our athletes on the world stage, in another city.’
Conversely, what would change a ‘Yes’ to a ‘No’?
One of our concerns is that when negotiating and planning a mega-project, there needs to be a clear, articulated line that will not be crossed. At what cost, at what risk, or at what terms would those on the ‘yes’ side say that this is no longer worthwhile for Calgary?
We are extremely concerned that this absolutely standard approach to negotiating doesn’t appear to be in place. We recommend Calgarians ask their City Councillor if they have articulated that line for themselves. It is crucial.
If we can put on the Stampede, why can’t we host the Olympics?
We probably can. But at what cost? And why host the IOC on their terms, rather than an event like the Stampede that is home-grown, uniquely Calgary, annual and with significant community building year-round? We simply don’t believe Calgary needs the IOC.
Maybe Calgary can change the IOC?
Is it reasonable to expect a smaller city (on a world scale) to be able to reform an international organization? Is that Calgary’s job? The IOC appears to be hearing that it needs to reform and it is talking about reforms. But so far, there aren’t structural changes that would make the host city terms any different. It seems like a lot to ask of Calgary to manage a mega-project, continuing with all of its own priorities, and then on top of all that, to reform an international organization on another continent.
If you support our Olympic athletes, why not let our local citizens enjoy having the games here?
The fact is that just as the host city is disadvantaged, so are the citizens.
1. Negative impacts of construction projects between 2019 and 2026.
2. Displacement of the current use of any new-build site. Often budgeting and planning do not take care of those displaced.
3. City Council and our city employees diverting hundreds of thousands of man-hours to the Olympics, and not looking after city business.
4. Not a single visitor to the city will have access to hotel rooms. Any tourist or visitor is limited to AirBnb-type arrangements. The IOC uses all hotel rooms in the region, including the U of C and SAIT residences.
5. Public dollars required for U of C and SAIT students who will be displaced and lose up to 6 weeks of their school year. (if the school year extends into the summer, students will lose their summer earning power, resulting in 2 years of impact for a 3-week event)
6. Average ticket prices of over $250 each (recent winter games) result in most with average and above average income not able to participate.
7. Environmental damage and excessive waste that result from winter games, especially for mega-projects that usually include venues with a single use. (If the use-and-demolish approach is not used, past host cities have been stuck with $10 million per year operating costs for major venues.)
8. Like the Stampede, the Olympics are considered a non-profit and so none of its venues will contribute to property taxes for Calgary. That further concentrates the City’s one revenue source on citizens of Calgary.
All of the above negative impacts might be acceptable to some people, but we believe the planning and bid documents should acknowledge them, plan for them, and be honest with citizens about the full cost for Calgarians.
Why are you saying ‘whatelse2026’?
Because we don’t believe Calgary’s choice is the Olympics or nothing. The ultimatum is completely inappropriate.
We believe in Calgary and Calgarians. We believe in our Council, our provincial government and our federal government able to support a vision for Calgary, including investing with us in major projects that Calgarians decide are important. Calgary is a city that can get things done and shape an ambitious vision for where our city can be.
We invite Calgary to join us in proposing ‘whatelse2026.’ What could we accomplish as a city between now and 2026? What will create a legacy that is actually about and for Calgary? We think this could be an exciting conversation.
When did the City of Calgary begin examining a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics?
In September 2015, Mayor Nenshi acknowledged a local group had been working on a bid for the 2026 Olympic games. In June 2016. Calgary City Council accepted a recommendation from the Calgary Sport Tourism Authority to form a bid exploration committee. Only councillors Druh Farrell and Sean Chu voted against spending $5 Million on the effort.
How did we get to where we are today?
Feb. 13-18, 1988: Calgary holds XV Winter Olympic Games.
Total cost to Calgarians: $829 million
No. of events: 46
No. of athletes: 1,423
New venues: Saddledome arena, Speedskating Oval, Nordic Centre in Canmore, Nakiska Ski Hill, expansion of COP Ski Hill, and other infrastructure including LRT and Olympic Plaza.
Sept. 2015: Toronto drops out of running for 2024 Summer Games; Nenshi confirms group in Calgary scoping bid for 2026 Games
March 2016: Quebec City Mayor, Regis Labeaume, suggests join Winter Olympics bith with Calgary
June 2016: Calgary City Council votes 12-2 in favour of spending up to $5 mm to explore bid for 2026 Winter Games. (Druh Farrell and Sean Chu are the dissenting votes.)
July 2016: Canadian Olympic Committee forms advisory committee, under 2010 Vancouver Games CEO, John Furlong
August 2016: Nenshi visits Rio Summer Games (personal vacation).
Rio Games Cost: $18.9 Billion
December 2016: Nenshi tells Calgary Chamber of Commerce that successful 2026 Olympic bid could speed up plans to extend C-Train to airport.
January 2017: City of Calgary refuses to release names of 11 full-time staff working on bid exploration committee.
February 2017: Olympic Bid Exploration committee releases names of 6 of 11 paid staff members. (Brian Skeet, Marco De Iaco, Jolan Storch, Sean Beardow, Karen Parker, Brian Hahn)
Rick Hanson, former police chief and head of exploration committee, identifies that biggest hurdle is cynicism towards the Olympics.
May 2017: Committee identifies two full-sized arenas needed to host the 2026 Games. Average cost of recent Winter Games is $3.2 Billion (taking out Sochi, which was estimated at $51 Billion)
Exploration Committee commissions poll that says 2/3 were in favour of a bid.
June 2017: Conflicting messages about Edmonton participating, using Edmonton’s new arena as part of bid.
Cost estimate for 2026 Olympics in Calgary is released at $4.6 Billion, requiring $2.2 Billion in public funding.
Cost excludes estimate for new arena and new curling centre or transportation.
Based on assumption of $2.2 Billion in revenue from ticket sales and sponsorships (controlled by the IOC)
Taxpayers would need to contribute $2.4 Billion
July 2017: IOC announces more time added to bid consideration process; invitation phase to begin in September 2017 and last for a year before a formal bidding process.
November 2017: Council votes 9-4 to invest $2 million to explore bid. Two additional research reports which questioned economic benefit were considered.
Whistler Ski Jump facilities could be part of Calgary bid.
Premier Notley states that real benefits for Albertans would have to be demonstrated prior to the provincial government committing support.
January 2018: IOC officials tour Calgary and give their blessing on reusing 1988 facilities, including Saddledome. Alpine event location remains a question.
February 2018: Post-Pyeongchang Olympics, public and some councilors question objective analysis by City and express concern that decision to bid has been made. A plebiscite is called for by Jeromy Farkas, Councillor, but it is voted down.
March 2018: Federal Government commits $5 million to explore North American bid for World Cup in 2026.
$20.5 million in provincial and federal funding is secured by City of Calgary to form a corporation to bid on the Games – “BidCo”
City of Calgary would contribute $9.5 million.
Cost of a plebiscite is estimated at $1.96 million and would require 6 months to prepare and implement.
March 20, 2018: Councillors vote 8-6 to continue the bid process. $2.5 million in City funding must be matched by province and federal government.
City Council delays vote on plebiscite until April 10.
March 25, 2018: Winsport announces plans to close shorter ski jump facility.
March 29, 2018: Provincial and Federal Governments commit $20.5 million but include requirement of holding a plebiscite. City would invest $9.5 million, bringing total investment to $15.5 million
March 30, 2018: Confusion over other levels of government funding support and plebiscite cause strain among Councillors.
April 3, 2018: IOC announces 7 cities interesting in bidding for 2026 Games: cities in Austria, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.
Canmore councillors agree to participate in Calgary’s BidCo.
April 4, 2018: Alberta Government does not commit to support a bid until it has full information and then a decision will be made.
April 6, 2018: Alberta Government clarifies that $10 million committed to BidCo is not continent on plebiscite. But additional funds would require a supporting vote by Calgarians.
April 10, 2018: City Councillors vote 9-1 that a vote is needed to determine whether to continue on a bid process.
Premier Notley announces that the Alberta Government would be willing to buy the TransMountain Pipeline in order for it to be built. The pipeline would be a $7.9 Billion project, presumably with a higher priority for the government than an Olympic Games.
April 13, 2018: Olympic athletes and Winsport stage a press conference in support of a bid.
April 16, 2018: Scheduled Council Meeting to include vote to continue with bid or not.
March – August 2018: Time needed for plebiscite, outlined in City Olympic Bid Engagement Plan.
September 2018: Anticipated timing that Calgary would have to commit to bid or not.
September 2019: IOC to announce winning bid.
*****Credit to Paul Harvey, Calgary Herald, April 13, 2018, for above timeline.*****
Where’s your Olympic Spirit? Don’t you support our Olympic athletes?
Here’s the thing: it’s very possible we could better support “Own the Podium” and fund our athletes to train and go get those medals by NOT hosting the Olympic games. Isn’t it exciting for Calgarians watching, and one might expect, for the athletes participating, to travel to new cities and have that Olympic experience on the world stage? So, yes, we are huge supporters of sport, of our athletes, and even of the Olympic spirit. Being a host city is not about Olympic spirit, but about working for the IOC and taking on massive risk.
Who served on the feasibility committee?
In September 2016, former Calgary police chief and failed PC MLA candidate Rick Hanson was unveiled as the head of a 17 member committee include:
Sheila McIntosh – Former VP at Cenovus Energy
Rod McKay – Chair of Tourism Calgary
Beckie Scott – Former Olympic athlete
Patrick Jarvis – Former Olympic athlete and former president of the paralympic committee
Karen Ball – Leader in art and culture?
Scott Thon – President and CEO of Altalink
Maureen Killoran – Partner at Osler LLP
Sue Riddell Rose – CEO of Perpetual Energy
Gene Edworthy – Optometrist
Wilton Littlechild – Founder of the indigenous games
Patti Pon – CEO of Calgary Arts and Development
Dale Henwood – CEO of the Canadian sports institute
Catriona Le May Doan – Former Olympic athlete
Chris Lee – Managing partner of Deloitte
Laurie Stretch – General manager of Edelmen
What were the committee’s findings?
The committee’s heavily redacted report estimated a cost to bid on the games in excess of $40 million that may be covered in part from private enterprise. The report goes on to state that a Calgary bid would be competitive and even if unsuccessful, it would be worth spending $40 million to increase “brand awareness”. The 365-page report omits risks associated with bidding and not bidding.
Where can I find more information?