By a unanimous vote, Canmore town council decided Tuesday night to spend $200,000 to undertake a number of actions to officially jump into the process of deciding whether being part of the 2026 Calgary Winter Olympic Games bid is a fit for the community.
“The City of Calgary has taken the approach that they’re in it to win it,” said Canmore’s chief administrative officer Lisa de Soto while detailing the timelines and milestones of the process as outlined by the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee.
“We believe it’s time for the town to look after its own needs and to start to inform a Canmore-based decision on whether or not to bid.”
Mayor John Borrowman said Canmore is its own community with its own constraints, concerns and vision for its future, and that bringing clarity to participation in a games bid needs to happen fast.
“We don’t know what we don’t know,” Borrowman said, adding the community needs a full understanding of the pros and cons of being part of an Olympic bid.
The money approved by council will allow Canmore to engage with expert advisors for advice on legal matters and the expectations of the Olympic movement. It also means one full-time project manager from the community will work with Calgary’s already-approved bid corporation and conduct wide-ranging public consultation on the idea of participating in a bid.
Additionally, the funding will allow Borrowman to join a contingent from the Calgary project in traveling to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea as part of a mandatory candidate city observer program.
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While the vote to approve the money was unanimous, one town councillor said she’s giving the green light with trepidation.
“We’re a town of 13,000 people and a community of more than a million is the ones that are putting the bid in,” Joanna McCallum said. “I don’t really want to see our community swallowed up in the discussion.”
McCallum said she wants to better understand how economic diversification, livability and affordability will be improved if the games came to Canmore.
“If none of those things really happen, I’m not sure I’m particularly interested,” she said. “But I know that we can’t find out any of those things unless we invest in discovering the answers to those questions.”
It’s anticipated Tuesday’s vote will be one of many decisions Canmore council will need to make with relation to the Olympics over the next year.