My position on Calgary's Olympic Bid
The City of Calgary is currently grappling with the prospect of bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. City Council created the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Assessment Committee to advise itself on that topic. I was voted Vice-Chair of this committee, and am also a well-known skeptic when it comes to the Olympic bid. I want to take a moment to explain how I came to my opinion of the Olympic bid and how I intend to approach my role on the Olympic Committee.
To me this decision must be about providing a tangible benefit to Calgarians. That does not mean just warm feelings of nostalgia, or civic pride. It means measureable assets for years to come. In the beginning that is what it was about.
Over a year ago, Council - with my support - voted to spend about $3 Million for a preliminary assessment of our Olympic facilities, and (more importantly) an analysis of ??Calgary’s Olympic legacy/sporting infrastructure gap. When that report came back, it indicated the cost to Calgarians to upgrade our facilities would be the same with the Olympics or without. That is where my support for pursuing the Olympics ended.
Since then the process has been a series of gambles at the expense of the taxpayer. The initial $3 Million was followed by another bet of a couple million to determine what it would cost to host the Olympics. Then a few more million were put on the table for more analysis, and to find out if the Province and the Federal Government would get involved. Each ante has come with some sort of misstep that has damaged public trust.
I am very concerned with our ability to actually host the Olympics if we have such difficulty just deciding on whether or not to bid on them. We would be dealing with billions of dollars, and small mistakes could have huge financial consequences. Not to mention we would be getting in bed with an Olympic organization whose motives and track record are questionable at best. The IOC would like us to be a guinea pig for their new format. I think it is better to let some other city wager that they have changed their ways.
Whether I agree with this situation or not, the will of Council is to move forward. We now have the City of Calgary, the Province of Alberta, and the Federal Government contributing roughly $10 Million each to explore and prepare for bidding on the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Province has stipulated that we must conduct a plebicite in order to move forward and we have a committee dedicated to advising Council on the topic.
As an Olympic dissenter, I am in a unique position and serve an important role on the Olympic Committee. I will serve you and make the best of the position I have been put in. I still feel that the Olympics are not right for Calgary, but I will do my best to approach this with neither blind faith nor total pessimism. I will keep you informed, and keep my comments clear of rhetoric.
As my employer, and the employer of everyone who works for the City of Calgary, you will be asked to vote on whether you want the Olympics or not. Quite frankly, I know you will make the right decision.
Categories: Motions and Initiatives