A group opposed to Calgary bidding on the 2026 Winter Olympic Games is gearing up for a fight.
Tom Sindlinger is a member of the group No Calgary Olympics. He’s an economic analyst, a member of the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame and was a Calgary MLA when the city was awarded the 1988 Olympics.
“We had so much money from the oil revenue we didn’t know what to do with it,” recalls Sindlinger. But he says the cash isn’t there now and the security costs of hosting the Games are higher. Sindlinger also maintains Olympic host cities are proven to experience little long-term economic benefit while their residents take on the economic risks.
“Olympic Games do not pay for themselves. We have to pay for them. It’s the taxpayer that pays for them,” Sindlinger said. “I am an athlete and I am [a] sports supporter, but I am also a realist. I know we don’t have the money.”
Calgary city council is expected to vote Monday on whether or not it will move forward with an Olympic bid.
Councillor Jeff Davison will be voting to keep the bid alive and go ahead with a plebiscite. He says now is not the time to kill the bid but rather let BidCo do it’s work.
“We need to provide some clarity around the numbers. We have a lot of groups that are out there lobbying one way or another and making statements that the bid is going to come in higher than expected. The reality is we have qualified people and we need to let them do their job,” Davison said on Sunday
Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt says there are still many unanswered questions surrounding a plebiscite. It’s a vote that may not even happen if council votes to pull the plug on the Olympic question on Monday
“What I find fascinating is that the councillors who had been demanding a plebiscite in the past are going to vote against the plebiscite in the hopes that they kill the Olympics bid,” Bratt said.
Olympians came forward on Friday to urge city council to continue with the bid process, saying it would be short-sighted to stop at this point. But members of No Calgary Olympics are confident they already have enough data to prove the Olympics are a bad idea for Calgary.
“We are very small; we do not have the reach of WinSport and gold medal athletes,” said No Calgary Olympics founder Daniel Gauld. “And it’s no fun being the no side either. So we have an uphill battle ahead of us but we’re ready.”
If the bid process continues, October is the earliest a plebiscite would be held.
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