The vote came after acrimonious debate that has played out over the past several days about the future of the bid, with several councillors that had previously supported it flipping their position.
"It's been really messy," said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, one of the seven who voted against the motion.
Olympic assessment committee chair Coun. Evan Woolley, who was once one of the bid's strongest proponents but put forward the motion to quash it Tuesday, said there are an "incredible amount of challenges" going forward.
🚨 Proposal to reconsider bid (YES= kill bid) 🚨Carra noChahal noChu yesColley-Urquhart noDavison noDemong yesFarkas yesFarrell yesGondek yesJones noKeating noMagliocca yesSutherland yesWoolley yesNenshi noMOTION FAILS 8-7Plebiscite WILL go forward #yyccc
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He said he plans to stand by the result of the plebiscite if Calgarians vote against the bid. But if they vote in favour of it and no funding agreement is in place, he won't support it.
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"I personally will not support a deal that's not in the best interests of Calgarians. We do not have the deal in front of us today," he told CBC News following the vote.
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"Calgarians need to have trust and confidence in our ability to host the games and this did not install that in me or in Calgarians."
In talks leading up to the decision, the Calgary 2026 OIympic bid corporation came out swinging at city council, accusing councillors of wanting to take away the democratic rights of Calgarians.
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"Today when city council votes, you stand to undermine a process, a three-year process, an expensive taxpayer-funded process, a democratic process that all Calgarians deserve," said Calgary 2026 board chair Scott Hutcheson.
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"We also told Calgarians that it would be their decision, because that's what you told us to tell them," she said.
That didn't set well with Coun. Jyoti Gondek, who accused Hutcheson of "very publicly" creating a divide, painting a picture of an incompetent council on one side and a skilled Calgary 2026 on the other.
"You've asked us at many turns not to be emotional, but your presentation today was underpinned by emotion," she said.
Following the vote, Moran said she was pleased with the outcome, even though it showed a council divided. She said now the onus is on Calgarians to decide what they feel is best for their city.
"I think this is onward and upward and it's a great opportunity for Calgarians," she said.
The $700-million figure matched an earlier pledge from the province, while the federal government had previously said it would contribute about $1.75 billion in 2026 dollars ($1.5 billion in today's dollars). The federal contribution would hold only if the city and province's total contribution matched, the city said.
"I would suggest Calgarians have all the facts. I think the information is there, we'll do our very best to get it out in a concise manner."
One issue flagged by multiple councillors on both sides of the vote was that much of the money spent so far on the plebsicite could not be recouped.
City clerk Laura Kennedy confirmed that as of last week, $773,000 has been spent on the plebiscite so far, with ballots printed and non-refundable deposits put down on the polling station facilities. The advance vote takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Supporters of the Olympic bid packed the foyer in front of council chambers Wednesday morning, chanting "Let us vote! Let us vote!" just prior to the start of the meeting.
During the lead-up to the vote, much attention was focused on picking apart the financial details of the funding proposal.
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But nearly as much attention was focused on the divisive discussions that have played out over the bid both between Calgarians and the negotiating parties, including most recently, bad blood between the federal, provincial and municipal governments.
Coun. Ward Sutherland made an impassioned speech imploring Calgarians to talk to each other civilly and make up their own minds about the bid. He criticized Coun. Jeromy Farkas for comments made to the press about infighting on council.
"Stay out of the ugly conversations, get off Twitter," he said, to the applause of his fellow councillors.
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Recommending that the plug be pulled on the Games bid wasn't the only Olympic-sized drama on Tuesday. Calgary 2026 released a new funding proposal at the eleventh-hour signed by the province and the federal government, but with no commitment from the city.
The new proposal, which was sparse on details, showed a reduced bid budget. Rather than $3 billion originally required by public funds, the organization said it had trimmed costs and now required $2.875 billion.
Council still has to accept the terms of what is oddly called “an agreement to consider the proposal below as discussed with the Government of Canada, Government of Alberta and City of Calgary late on the evening of October 29, 2018.”
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Moran said $200 million of the $285-million reduction was contingencies that were cut, including a lowered estimate of how much security would cost and a reduction in housing needed for workers.
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Calgary 2026 highlighted one budget line that called for the city to purchase a contingency insurance policy, valued at $200 million, for $20 million of city funds. The organization said that will leverage $200 million matched by the federal government.
The tentative language may soothe the roiling emotions on city council, which still has to debate and approve at Wednesday’s meeting. Early indications are there will be many tough questions and passage is not a certainty.
When questioned, however, it became clear there was no insurance policy identified as yet and if none could be found, Calgary 2026 just said it would find more cuts in their budget.
During the council debate Wednesday, city manager Jeff Fielding said administration is not at a point where it can say whether the latest deal complies with principles council established for the negotiations.
"We're saying we still need to do some homework to make sure we're within the mandate that was given to us by council," he said.
Fielding said the question before council was whether it felt there was enough information for Calgarians to make an informed decision in the plebiscite.
After a break for lunch, Coun. Druh Farrell said council promised Calgarians they would have the information about how much the bid would cost the city 30 days prior to a plebiscite and said that promise has been broken.
Gondek made a point while questioning the emotional introduction from Calgary 2026 that council has other big decisions to make, particularly when it comes to finances.
Now that we finally have this in writing — and I think its a reasonable deal — we need Calgarians to be able to vote [in the plebiscite], said Ward 13 Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart. “When you see the number [the feds] are committing to — the $1.423 billion — without all those other strings attached, and you look at the $30 million theyll also put in to leverage other initiatives in the hosting plan, these things are new.”
At the top of that list is a $98-million hole in its tax base brought about by the economic downturn and the lingering vacancy rates in downtown Calgary.
“I’m going to vote in supporting recommending to end the bid,” said Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu. “We have been promised so many times we’d get everything in 30 days and there’s no coverage on overspending, Calgarians have to pick it up. There’s other things we’ve been promised and not coming through. This is fancy creative accounting I disagree with.”
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Council also heard that if it decided not to host the Games, it would have to come up with another way to invest in upgrades to the existing facilities from when it hosted the '88 Winter Olympics. Fielding, the city manager, estimated that cost at $500 million.
“I know city council understands how important this is to Calgary, that they know whats at stake here, and that they will show their strong leadership and allow Calgarians to decide the outcome of the Olympic and Paralympic bid at a plebiscite Nov. 13. These will be Canadas Games, Calgarys choice.”
The vote keeps three bids in the running for the 2026 Winter Games: Calgary, Stockholm and a joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortina D'Ampezzo.
“I have serious concerns,” said Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas. “I need to know how the budget has been cut so substantially to make the numbers work. If it’s reduction from security, we are moving into reckless territory to continue.”
The cities will submit bids in January 2019, and the winner will be chosen by the International Olympic Committee in June.
Sarah Rieger joined CBC Calgary as an online journalist in 2017. You can reach her by email at [email protected], or securely via the Signal messaging app at 403.542.1458.
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