NO DEAL: Council needs to shut down Bid
NoCalgaryOlympics calls on Council to do the right thing
Wednesday, October 31, 2018 A late night government funding agreement under consideration and released by Calgary2026 is generating new concerns about Calgary bidding on hosting the Olympics.
Recent polling, the engagement process, and all public and social media comments reflect an Olympic Bid that Calgarians simply don’t want. With current, formal polling reflecting 64% ‘No,’ Council should be leery of pushing ahead with a troubled Bid that Calgarians simply don’t want.
A new funding agreement declared by Calgary2026 adds to the concerns:
- An ‘agreement to consider’ is not a deal. Yet Calgarians were promised months ago that full government funding, cost sharing, and cost overrun coverage would be in place at least 30 days ahead of the plebiscite.
- We are not only days from the Advance Polls, but thousands of Calgarians have already marked a mail-in ballot without the knowledge of this agreement that is under consideration.
- The agreement under consideration appears to bring in other budgeted program elements unrelated to the Olympics into the Calgary2026 budget. This appears to be a shell game by moving funds from one column to another, leaving the hosting budget with an even bigger shortfall.
- Council unanimously agreed to five principles required for a Bid to go forward. Council has not reconciled those five principles, including ensuring cost overruns will not fall on Calgarians, confirming to citizens that the principles will be met.
- Council has always committed to not going forward with a Bid if it isn’t a good deal for Calgary. This Bid, plagued by missed deadlines, process missteps, and transparency issues, is not meetiing that test and needs to be ended. There is no reason to think any of this will improve from here.
- Robust consultation should, at a minimum, have included the context of the City’s financial well being and outlook, including the next 4-year budget. Without this information, a vote on hosting the Olympics is not informed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good or bad Bid, it matters if Calgarians understand the context in which they would be taking on this high risk, mega-project.
The Calgary2026 Bid process has eroded trust in, and credibility of, Council. NoCalgaryOlympics is concerned that Calgarians do not feel their voices are being heard or respected in this process. Ultimately, this is a significant cost to the Olympic Bid process that could damage the City for years and is not being given appropriate consideration.
NoCalgaryOlympics emphatically calls for ending the Bid so that Council can focus on what Calgary needs and not what the IOC wants.
Most Calgarians want Calgary2026 Bid to End
Tuesday, October 30, 2018 As City Council faces the choice of ending the Calgary2026 on Wednesday, it is important for them to know that most Calgarians do not support bidding on the Olympic Games.
A poll released yesterday showed, Ward by Ward, the support for Calgary bidding on the Olympics. The poll asked the identical question as the plebiscite.
- 13 out of 14 Wards are overwhelmingly No
- 5 wards reflect over 70% No sentiment
- 1 Ward has over 50% Yes sentiment, also the smallest sampling
Councillors can vote to end the Bid on Wednesday and be confident that most Calgarians would agree with that decision.
With Councillors currently having more information than Calgarians about the City’s financial condition, about its pending 4-year budget decisions, and the impact of reduced property tax revenues, it is appropriate for Councillors to end the Bid, put a stop to the spending on this project, and begin to focus on other City priorities.
The polling covered the entire city and was conducted in mid-October with 2,956 responses. The poll was completed by Alberta Analytics Group via landline and has an accuracy rate of +/- 5.4, 19 times out of 20.
Poll Results: 64% ‘No’ across Calgary
Most Calgarians are relieved that Calgary2026 bid is on the brink
Monday, October 29, 2018 NoCalgaryOlympics has heard from Calgarians in steadily increasing numbers that they are concerned about a Calgary2026 bid. The reasons vary, but concerns have only intensified as the process unfolded.
Now NoCalgaryOlympics has been provided with a polling report that confirms what the campaign has heard from Calgarians.
The results show an average of 64% against hosting the Olympics.
The polling covered the entire city and was conducted in mid-October with 2,956 responses. The poll was completed by Alberta Analytics Group via landline and has an accuracy rate of +/- 5.4, 19 times out of 20.
The polling reflects a ‘no’ sentiment as high as 73% in Wards 9, 13 and 14. The number of responses are also the highest in those Wards. The lowest ‘no’ sentiment is in Ward 5, at 39% but that also reflects fewer than 100 respondents. Ward 5 is the only Ward to get above 50% in favour of bidding.
Overall, it appears that, across the City of Calgary, the support for bidding on Calgary2026 is weak.
NoCalgaryOlympics has engaged in dialogue with Calgarians for months and the comments we are hearing support the polling statistics.
Calgarians tell us they are worried that hosting the Olympics might only benefit a few, that it is too expensive a project for Calgary right now, that the risk of cost overruns is concerning, and that the process has lacked transparency and timely, complete information. The concern that the Olympics will distract City Council and administration from what Calgary needs now is also a frequent comment. Many, particularly in Canmore, express concern for engaging with the International Olympic Committee, particularly because of the weak stance on doping and the reinstatement of Russia.
By late Monday, it appears that there is likelihood the Bid process will be ended in the next days. Most Calgarians will be onside with that decision, based on what the polling and the experience of NoCalgaryOlympics suggests.
Federal funding: more money required from Calgary taxpayer
Taxpayers have to top up funding for Calgary2026 to realize Federal match.
Cost overruns remain on Calgarians’ shoulders
Friday, October 26, 2018 Calgarians will have difficulty swallowing the burden of hosting Olympics in 2026 if Federal funding information leaked on Friday is confirmed. With less than three weeks until the plebiscite, Calgarians still don’t have clarity on the costs they will carry, directly through City commitment, and additionally through provincial and federal taxes.
The Federal funding of up to $1.75 billion leaves crucial concerns. The commitment is to match the combined provincial and municipal funding. With the provincial funding at $700 million, and “not a penny more,” the City would have to more than double its initial estimate of $500 million in order to realize the full, Federal match.
Mayor Nenshi has publicly stated that $800 million in City funding would be a “No” vote. The leaked Federal funding terms combined with the Province’s firm, maximum contribution puts the City at $800 million to reach the required $3 Billion in public funding needed to host the Olympics in 2026.
If the Federal Government funding details do not cover cost overruns, then City Council will also have to say “No.” City Council unanimously agreed to the principle that Calgarians would not be on the hook for cost overruns. The information available to date puts this unquantifiable risk squarely on Calgary taxpayers as dictated by the International Olympic Committee’s Host City contract.\
This past week, International Olympic Committee representatives disappointed the city by confirming their financial and in-kind services commitment to the 2026 Host City without sweetening the pot, or offering to share the cost overrun risk.
Calgarians need City Council to outline how pursuing an Olympic bid is feasible based on the now-known funding commitments, the lack of cost overrun coverage by other levels of government, and the stunning report of substantial reduction in property tax revenue anticipated in 2019 and beyond.\
City Council is in the process of responding to significantly lower property tax revenue as it determines and votes on the next four-year budget next month.
It is difficult to comprehend how City Council can represent the interests of Calgarians by submitting an Olympic bid in January 2019 that commits to a major investment of taxpayer money not reflected in the City’s pending four-year budget. The bid submission would occur at the same time that Calgary families and businesses would face property tax increases and absorb the impact of city service cuts that Council may have to approve as part of an austerity budget.\
Calgarians should say “No” at the November 6 and 7 advance polls or the November 13th election.
City Council needs to come clean with costs and risks
on Calgary taxpayers for Calgary2026
Monday, October 15, 2018 Calgarians now know the Alberta Government is committing up to $700 million, and not a penny more, towards hosting Calgary2026. That announcement represents a shortfall – $300 million. It also means another missed deadline in the Bid Process as the Federal Government has no commitment less than 30 days before the plebiscite.
NoCalgaryOlympics is calling on City Council to come clean on the risk for Calgary taxpayers.
Questions requiring answers:
- What is the updated risk to Calgary taxpayers based on the Alberta Government funding announcement and their refusal to cover cost overruns or provide International Olympic Committee-required guarantees?
- What does Council know today about the increased impact on Calgarians – for both business and residential taxes — with the Olympics hosting in the budget?
- What cost is too much for hosting the Olympics? What is the dollar figure required from the City of Calgary to host the Olympics, including Olympics-inspired projects? Is that cost manageable?
From the outset of pursuing an Olympic Bid, all stakeholders said they don’t want ‘the Olympics at any cost.’ That statement needs to be quantified: what cost is too much?
Calgarians are dependent on Councillors to share their full understanding of the impact on taxpayers, and for Council to assess and advise whether Calgary2026 is a viable project.
Daniel Gauld, founder of NoCalgaryOlympics expressed his concern: “It is starting to feel like no one is comfortable with where this Bid process is today. Calgarians are being asked to make a big, costly decision that could impact their taxes and city services for years to come. But they don’t have enough information. All along, Council has had more information. They just aren’t sharing it.”
City Councillors need to come clean with Calgarians and be open about the City’s financial position, the financial outlook, and full disclosure on the risk assessment related to Calgary2026. The hours of closed-door meetings throughout this process, and through early stages of budget planning, have given Council a clear picture of the risk to and impact on taxpayers.
Yet Calgary taxpayers remain in the dark.
The community consultation, barely underway, is not robust. In fact, consultation is lacking to the point of irresponsibility. It is not reasonable or fair for Calgarians to have their vote based only on the Bid Book, which is a draft that has already changed and needs to change again based on revenue shortfalls.
City Council has to tell Calgarians across our city how hosting the Olympics will affect individuals, households and businesses — before the plebiscite. Only City Council knows what trade-offs there will be. What investments or services needed by Calgary will be cut in order to support the Olympics?
Finally, NoCalgaryOlympics has been calling on Council to review and report prior to the plebiscite on its 5 principles, unanimously supported, as a requirement to pursue Calgary2026.
One of those principles is that Calgarians would not be responsible for cost overruns. If that principle is not resolved before the plebiscite, will Council take an off-ramp? Or will Council, at least, report to Calgarians that the principle will not be met?
As Calgarians, we hope everyone keeps in mind that we can support our athletes, and continue to support our 1988 legacy, without taking on the high risk and multi-billion-dollar expense of being a Host City for the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
If City Council won’t draw the line on an “Olympics at any cost,” then it is up to Calgarians: draw a line in the ‘No’ box.
On November 13th, Calgary should vote No.
We can do better.
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.