Councillors react to city’s Olympic bid funding error

Click to play video: '‘A lot of confusion’: Calgary city councillors react to city releasing wrong information on Olympic bid money' ‘A lot of confusion’: Calgary city councillors react to city releasing wrong information on Olympic bid money
WATCH: Calgary city councillors are reacting to Saturday's apology from city administration regarding false information released on Friday about money to to pursue a possible Olympic bid. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports it's left some politician wondering if there is anything more to the miscommunication – Mar 18, 2018

Calgary city councillors are asking why incorrect information was released on Friday from city administration regarding funding for a possible Olympic bid, with some suggesting the bid is already a done deal and others saying critics need to calm down.

“A lot of confusion is going on,” councillor Sean Chu said on Sunday. “As councillors, we are confused. Could you imagine the public? And just one thing after another.”

Late Friday afternoon, a report appeared on the City of Calgary website that stated both the federal and provincial governments had confirmed funding for the creation of a bid corporation to the tune of $20.5 million.

READ MORE: City of Calgary apologizes for posting incorrect Olympic bid information

The funding would help establish BidCo., an organization designed to assemble Calgary’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

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But then on Saturday afternoon, the city issued a news release saying no such funding commitment was made and apologized for the error, saying there was no intent to mislead the public or city council.

“The version of the report that was posted online was a version that had been prepared in the hope of receiving formal funding approval ahead of next week’s Strategic Meeting of Council. It was mistakenly posted,” the statement reads.

WATCH: Druh Farrell apologizes for suggesting Olympic report was released intentionally.

Click to play video: 'Druh Farrell apologizes for suggesting Olympic report was released intentionally' Druh Farrell apologizes for suggesting Olympic report was released intentionally
Druh Farrell apologizes for suggesting Olympic report was released intentionally – Mar 19, 2018

The error had some Calgary councillors taking to Twitter on the weekend with their frustrations.



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Chu says the release of the wrong information on Friday, combined with a previous report on the negative impacts of an Olympic bid that came through the media, make it look like a decision on a bid has already been made.

“The perception is that it sounds like we are being managed — and if you are administration, who are you taking the cue from?” Chu said.

“I have been saying that for a while. And this whole thing seems like already a done deal.”

But councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart says the city’s release of the wrong report on Friday was an “honest mistake” and is disappointed with councillors who claim otherwise.

“These folks need to really realize what is a crisis and what isn’t — and to me, this has been overblown in a really big way to fit their own personal agendas,” she said.

“There’s a handful of councillors who have been opposed to the Olympic bid right from the get-go. So anything they can find that will justify their reasons for opposing this in any way, they jumped on it.”

Colley-Urquhart said on Sunday that city administration was working on issuing a formal apology to both the federal and provincial governments for the error.

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READ MORE: Calgary city councillor says 2026 Olympic bid ‘likely’

Councillor Jyoti Gondek penned a lengthy Facebook post outlining her concerns, calling on councillors to hit pause and regroup with regards to the Olympic bid project.

“The weight and pace of the Olympic bid project is creating enough strain on Administration that we had a very public error on Friday that has generated a lot of angst between and within Administration and Council,”  Gondek wrote.

“This situation should be a wake-up call that we as a Council need to understand why this happened and fix the problem.”

Councillor Jeromy Farkas wants a plebiscite to ask Calgarians if they want to pursue an Olympic bid.  He has concerns about how the information has been released, saying a report that contained negative economic impacts relating to hosting the Olympics came through the media.

“I have a lot of concerns over  the process. When we heard of really important reports regarding the negative impacts of hosting the Games that were kept secret from the public and from council … we only heard of that through the media and after the fact,” Farkas said.

“My concern is that in 2018, it seems this version of the Olympics seems to be more driven by the political elite and special interests rather than everyday Calgarians,” he added.

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“So I really think it’s past time to consult Calgarians, because at the end of the day, they’re going to be footing the bill.”

Councillors will get another Olympic bid update at a strategic meeting of council on Wednesday.

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