The City of Calgary spent $6,994,566 for its failed 2026 Olympic bid, under half of the $14,637,000 budgeted for the bid process.
According to a new report in front of city council on Monday, $4,015,564 went to work on the potential bid, with $2,729,289 going towards City Secretariat Costs and $249,713 spent in the November plebiscite.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi believes it was money well spent.
“The vast majority of the money upfront was to help us understand our ability to get big international events, the state of our sport facilities and what we need to invest in those to make sure high performance athletes can still train here,” Nenshi said. “I think, overall, money well spent, although I do wish I was in Lausanne this week doing the final bid for the Olympics.”
Ultimately, 56.4 per cent of Calgarians who cast a vote in the plebiscite voted against Calgary hosting the Olympics.
“Were there a lot of missteps? Absolutely,” Ward 1 councillor Ward Sutherland told Global News.
“I think a lot of them were at the beginning and not the end, to be honest. But, it set the foundation of what we need to fix in the future and if the economy gets better and Calgarians want it, that work is already there and it’s not a waste of money.”
The Calgary 2026 bid had an estimated price tag of $5.1 billion, with the provincial government vowing to cover $700 million and the federal government promising $1.423 billion.
If the bid was successful, the City of Calgary was expected to cover $390 million, with an additional $20 million for insurance, in anticipation of cost overruns.
According to the report, a total of $16,319,740 was spent by various levels of government towards the potential bid; originally, $30 million was committed.
Watch below (Nov. 22, 2018): Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday his government “fully supports and accepts” the outcome of a referendum that led Calgary to abandon a potential Olympic bid.
$4,226,909 came from the provincial government, while Ottawa funded $4,438,255.
Calgary 2026, the organization created to develop the bid, was dissolved on May 31, 2019.
$400,000 is being held by a trustee for an eight-year period to deal with any unanticipated liabilities for Calgary 2026, but will be returned to various levels of government if it isn’t needed.
$3,639,012 in excess funds have been returned to multiple levels of government already, with $444,745 going back to the government of Canada, $2,773,091 to the province of Alberta, and $421,176 returning to the city of Calgary.
The report is being presented to city councillors at the combined meeting of council on Monday morning.