Timing tight for Calgary’s Winter Olympics plebiscite set for November

Click to play video 'Grassroots group supports Olympic bid, but has some concerns' Grassroots group supports Olympic bid, but has some concerns
A group that is advocating to have the Winter Olympics in Calgary again held a public meeting on Tuesday.

There is a concern that the public may not have enough time to go over the financial information surrounding a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics before a November plebiscite.

Calgary city council’s 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Assessment Committee was told Tuesday a multi-party agreement with the federal and provincial governments is not expected to be finalized until sometime in September. The costs to hold the Games are expected to be released at the same time.

READ MORE: Olympic engagement and plebiscite in principle approved by Calgary council

“I appreciate that we’re having these great working relationships with the other orders of government and having fruitful conversations,” said councillor Evan Woolley, chair of the committee.

“They have their own processes but ultimately we must allow enough time for Calgarians to digest and have that conversation.”

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Woolley says there is a date and question for the plebiscite in November which he says will be made public at council’s July 30 meeting.

City solicitor Glenda Cole said a lot of work is ongoing but the agreement and the costs won’t be ready until September.

READ MORE: Here’s what Calgarians think about the costs of a 2026 Olympic bid: Ipsos poll

“You’ve seen an estimate of them and we’ve seen some further refined estimates and there are efforts right now to further refine them.”

“I know that we all hoped that they would be available in June but I think we can agree that what is the most important thing is for those numbers to be accurate.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says there are a couple of negatives if the plebiscite was pushed into the New Year, not the least of which is the city has to have a bid in to the International Olympic Committee in January.

READ MORE: Athletes tell Calgary not to bail on 2026 Olympic bid

The committee also approved another $5 million for the city secretariat, a city team reviewing the business case for the 2026 Games and analyzing the risks and rewards with moving forward. The money is coming out of a city corporate savings account.

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The committee will meet again July 24 and members from the IOC will be in attendance to answer councillor questions. That will likely occur behind closed doors.

The IOC delegation will also be guests of a public Calgary Chamber of Commerce earlier in the day.