Calgary city council approves Olympic bid plebiscite 12-3
Calgary city council approved the 2026 Olympic bid plebiscite by a vote of 12-3 after a long and arduous meeting on Tuesday night.
Most councillors said they voted yes so they can leave it up to Calgarians to decide on hosting the winter games.
Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating voted yes — not a yes to the Olympics, but a yes to letting the public have their say.
“My vote today will allow the process to continue and give Calgarians their long anticipated say into whether or not Calgary bids,” he said. “I think we should proceed.”
Keating said he will be having an open house with a Q&A session on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at Mahogany Beach House so that people can get all of the information to make a well-informed decision. He said he has invited proponents and critics of the bid to speak at the event.
Some councillors were ready to stop the bidding process, however.
“My feeling is that we want a Games really bad,” said Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu, one of three who voted no. “We highball the revenues and then we lowball all the expenses.”
Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell also voted no and thanked everyone for their work throughout the process.
Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca also voted no.
There are still questions of where the money would come from, be it at a federal, provincial or municipal level.
WATCH: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi comments on how money from a potential 2026 Winter Olympics bid can be used to help build and renovate Calgary athletic facilities.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said money spent on a Winter Olympics would help in upgrading city athletic facilities.
“That’s $500 million to renovate those facilities that are coming on 40 years old. You add to that the need for a field house. That’s $300 million which we have to do, that’s been on our capital list for a long time,” he said.
“That’s $800 million and that has to be spent anyway and if we can get that money from other places and all the benefits of the Olympic Games, that sounds really interesting to me.”
Nenshi added should the plebiscite — scheduled for Nov. 13 — pass in favour of the holding the games, council will respect the will of Calgarians.
LISTEN: BidCo CEO Mary Moran discusses the budget presented to Calgary city council
“If the plebiscite fails we’ll stop. I can’t imagine us not following the will of the people,” he said. “[If the] plebiscite passes? Then there won’t be any more reports to council going forward, but there will still be an opportunity for our negotiating team; the secretary of the [bid corporation] to come back and say it’s not working.”
— With files from Global News’ Spencer Gallichan-Lowe
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