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Calgary city committee to hear about public engagement for potential 2026 Olympic bid

A delegation from the City of Calgary traveled to the Pyeongchang Olympics as the Canadian city still considers a bid for the 2026 Games. Reid Fiest/Global News

Calgary city council’s priorities and finance committee will get an update on the public engagement plan for the 2026 Olympic bid process, as well as an update on the requirements for a plebiscite.

A report going to the committee Tuesday states that the city should share all relevant information with Calgarians about the Olympic bid process.

Engagement is work normally overseen by the Bid Corporation (BidCo), which is still being set up. But with tight timelines city administration is recommending engagement with the public begin as soon as possible.

Plans include open houses and community meetings as well as surveys, fact sheets and brochures. There will also be an online forum and telephone townhall.

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“We have to let the facts be the facts and let Calgarians make an educated decision on what they want,” said Jeff Davison. “We’ll never be able to take 100 per cent of the emotion out of it and I think that emotion will play into the vote regardless.”

The Ward 6 councillor said it’s important engagement also not been framed in the hopes of getting a certain opinion.

“We have to present a very fair and unbiased opinion as to say, ‘look here’s what we think it can do; is it worth taking the risk,'” he said.

The province has said that in order for it to join the BidCO a citizens’ vote would have to be called when the bid book is published. But that is not expected to be ready until January.

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However, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday that could be too late to hold a vote.

“That was something the province has put forward, but I think it’s something we can have further conversation on,” he said.

Nenshi believes a vote sometime between October and January is most likely.

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“If you ask me, I would say that’s exactly the window but there are people who know a lot more about this than I and council has to make that decision,” he said. “Council really has to say whether or not they are interested in a plebiscite.”

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