Canada Calgary's 2026 Olympic bid process survives latest council vote

16:46  17 april  2018
16:46  17 april  2018 Source:   Calgary Herald

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Canadian Olympians© David Goldman Canadian Olympians

Calgary’s potential bid for the 2026 Winter Games survived a critical vote at city hall Monday, but municipal leaders are now turning to the task of improving oversight of the city’s flawed Olympic project.

Council voted to reaffirm support for continuing work on a bid by a 9-6 margin after two councillors reversed previously stated positions opposing a bid.

It passed with an amendment proposed by Coun. Shane Keating to establish a subcommittee, made up of four councillors and the mayor, which would oversee the Olympic process as it unfolds. The committee would be chaired by a councillor rather than the mayor.

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Calgary ' s Olympic aspirations were kept alive Tuesday night as council voted to continue the bid process for the 2026 Games, with the next steps contingent upon the city receiving funding from the provincial and federal levels of government.

Calgary ’ s potential 2026 Olympic bid avoided being relegated to the dust bin Wednesday as city council voted to keep the process moving forward. Questions centre around funding for security and infrastructure costs of hosting the Games.

Councillors Ward Sutherland and Diane Colley-Urquhart cast their votes in favour of the motion after signalling last week that their support for keeping the bid process alive had waned.

“I’ve struggled with this for five days,” Sutherland said in council chambers.

“This is the first time in five years I’ve actually changed my decision (and) I cannot sleep at night with the decision I made (last) Tuesday because I think I was just frustrated with the process.”

Sutherland later told reporters that what helped make up his mind was that a council subcommittee will oversee the bid process. “The logic behind it makes sense and I’d like to see this at least go to June,” he said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and councillors Keating, George Chahal, Jeff Davison, Evan Woolley, Gian-Carlo Carra and Ray Jones also voted in favour of the motion.

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Calgary is pressing ahead with a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics The pivotal vote , held late on Tuesday after a marathon council meeting, follows more than two years of planning and at-times divisive debate about whether the staggering costs associated with the Games would be worth it.

Following a close vote , the potential for a Calgary Olympic Winter Games bid is still alive. In a marathon meeting that didn’t wrap until after 10 p.m. Tuesday, councillors decided to continue the bid process in an 8 – 6 vote .

Councillors Joe Magliocca, Jyoti Gondek, Sean Chu, Druh Farrell, Jeromy Farkas and Peter Demong voted against.

Much of the debate at council concerned “missteps” by the city since it began exploring a potential bid, as well as whether there has been sufficient public engagement and if the mistakes made in the handling of the file warranted taking the “off-ramp.”

Olympic athletes, sports organizations and business leaders mobilized last week, urging city hall skeptics not to abandon an Olympic bid yet. Nenshi described the campaign as “a huge waking up of what I think is the silent majority in this city.”

“When you try to do something different, when you try to do something innovative and transparent, you end up making your sausage in public and sometimes people don’t like the hotdog,” Nenshi said.

“But ultimately I think that’s better. Do I in some ways feel like there’s been a lot of headaches that could’ve been avoided through a more traditional process? Absolutely. But is it the right thing to do if we’re truly serious about reform and modelling that kind of behaviour to the IOC? I think so.”

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City council voted Monday to stay in the marathon that could lead to a 2026 Winter Olympic Games bid from Calgary . City administrators plan to return to council next week with an ask of up to million to continue the work on the process , but some councillors doubt the wisdom of proceeding.

The federal and provincial governments have confirmed financial support in Calgary ’ s process to determine if a bid should be submitted to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, according to information released by the city on Friday. A report going to a Calgary city council

Details on the subcommittee which will oversee the city’s Olympic bid process will come to council on Monday.

Nenshi said council will look at appointing members after determining the logistics of who that subcommittee will report to and how it will function. Council will also discuss plans for public engagement and a possible plebiscite at that meeting.

Conversations are also underway to determine the chair and CEO of the Olympic BidCo, which has received a combined $30-million financial commitment from all three levels of government. Elected officials are ineligible to serve as part of the BidCo, according to Nenshi.

The mayor said he expects a plebiscite could be held between October and early 2019.

“If we move forward, and it has to move forward on terms that are favourable to Calgarians,” Nenshi said. “A lot of people have been saying, ‘Oh, it’s so expensive, it’s going to triple Calgary’s debt.’ Well if that were the case, we wouldn’t do it.”

But Farkas questioned whether a 2026 bid was right for the city.

“I have to ask, why the hurry? A 2030 bid makes a lot more sense to me because we can actually go into it eyes wide open. We can ensure that the public support is there.

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Calgary city council will vote next week whether to continue the bid process for the 2026 Winter Olympics . (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press).

only Sion in Switzerland has officially launched a bid for the 2026 Games, but that city will likely need to survive a referendum next year over Apr 5 Bindu Suri has the latest . Sean Chu Calgary . 1 day ago Calgary city council will vote Monday out of Olympic bid process , tightens race for Calgary .

“The issue is bureaucratic inertia. It just seems like from the get-go it’s been a done deal, two full years down this process without that opportunity for public input. It’s the definition of insanity to repeat the same behaviour expecting different results.”

Some athletes who were advocating in favour of continuing the bid process were in council chambers and were pleased with the outcome of the vote.

“We’re happy we’ve lived to fight another day,” said Olympian Seyi Smith, who competed in track and field in 2012 and bobsled in 2018. “The onus really is on us, to the community, to make sure that we do this properly.

“Now that the BidCo is going to be put together, whoever is on that committee, the entire city, our province, the country’s going to be looking at you specifically, can you do this right, and we just hope you can.”

A complete financial analysis on hosting costs and funding sources is expected to come in June. The deadline for Calgary to submit a complete bid book to the International Olympic Committee is in January.

mpotkins@postmedia.com
Twitter: @mpotkins

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