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Taxpayer organization calls for Calgary Olympic plebiscite as governments commit to bid corporation

WATCH: Calgary is now one step closer to an Olympic bid. The federal and provincial governments announced support for the establishment of a bid corporation. As Jill Croteau reports this comes on the same day an advocacy group is calling for the need to let taxpayers have their say.

The Olympics were a hit in 1988, but with a price tag of $4.6-billion, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) said the only responsible thing is to let Calgarians decide if a 2026 bid is the right decision. CTF Alberta director Colin Craig said Calgarians deserve to have a say.

“Hosting the Olympics is different from core city services like policing, sewers and fixing roads,” Craig said. “You have to involve the public, just like Vancouver did.

“We haven’t even put in a bid and costs are already going up–and that’s staggering.”

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READ MORE: Calgary city council chooses to delay decision on Olympic bid plebiscite to April

The Institute for Public Sector Accountability also weighed in. Marcel Latouche said the costs will continue to climb.

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“As far as facilities, it’s a joke,” Latouche said. “If you think in 2026, athletes today will be the same, it’s impossible. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) is telling you the Games can use facilities of 1988–forget it.”

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

The cost to have a plebiscite comes in at around $2 million. Those in favor argued that’s a fraction compared to the overall cost of the bid. Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas is encouraging Calgarians to attend council on April 10. The date is set aside for a committee vote on the plebiscite.

“It seems more like politicians and special interest is pushing for it,” Farkas said Thursday.

“For those who are cautious about the Games, April 10 is a good way to tap the brakes and make sure Calgarians are on board.”

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Later Thursday afternoon, the City of Calgary announced its support–along with that of the government of Canada and the province of Alberta–for the establishment of a “bid corporation that will continue the development of hosting plans and a fully costed event budget that will inform a bid.”

“Today’s announcement means Calgary is one step further in the bid process,” reads the city’s statement. “Calgary entered the dialogue stage of the 2026 candidature process of the IOC in October 2017. The IOC will select ‘interested cities’ to move from the dialogue stage to the candidature stage in October 2018, with the successful host city to be announced in September 2019.”

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According to the press secretary for the Minister of Culture and Tourism, the commitment to the funding comes with a catch – a plebiscite, which council remained at a crossroads on earlier in March.

“All parties agreed there should be a plebiscite,” Marion Nader said.

“The Alberta government is committed to continuing to work with the city and the federal government to ensure that any possible bid makes sense for Alberta and that will include meaningful public engagement to assess public support for Calgary’s bid.

“Public engagement will help ensure that government decisions remain in line with the wants, needs and expectations of Albertans.”

Watch below from March 19: A false report about government funding for Calgary’s Olympic bid went public before being corrected. Many Calgarians were left wondering how a mix-up on a billion-dollar project could happen in the first place. Lisa MacGregor reports.

Olympic bid confusion a hot topic at Calgary City Council on Monday
Olympic bid confusion a hot topic at Calgary City Council on Monday
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