Lets do this: Cavalry of Canadian Olympians rally in support of Calgary 2026

\Let\s do this\: Cavalry of Canadian Olympians rally in support of Calgary 2026
Calgary council votes to revive Olympic bid from near-death
Calgary city council voted to keep the city's 2026 Olympic bid alive after more than seven hours of heated discussions Wednesday, but it could simply be on life support until the next challenge on Nov. 13 when Calgarians will vote on a non-binding plebiscite to determine the bid's future.

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.

How will cost savings be achieved?– Reduction of $155M to security/essential services budget – Reduction of $45M to housing– No figure offered: Relocation of Athletes Village. Will no longer be in Stampede Park cluster, so bus barns won't have to be removed. #yyccc pic.twitter.com/SdjZcaW1wB

"It's been really messy," said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, one of the seven who voted against the motion.

Nenshi pointed to the fact that the city must spend approximately $350 million anyway to build a field house and complete upgrades to McMahon Stadium and other facilities. He said Calgary would contribute $390 million and see approximately $4 billion in investment through hosting the Olympics.

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.

Coun. Evan Woolley — once one of the biggest proponents of the bid as chair of the Olympic committee — said he could no longer support it after being disappointed by the unwillingness of provincial and federal governments to contribute more.

Federal, provincial governments reach agreement on funding proposal for Calgary 2026 Olympic bid

"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.

“I don’t have confidence that the numbers are going to add up,” he said. “I’m uncomfortable with the risks associated with the other orders of government not carrying better guarantees.”

Politics Briefing: Calgary Olympic bid not dead yet

"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. 

1. Winter games: Calgary city council will decide today whether Tuesday nights last-minute funding proposal from the federal and provincial governments is enough to save a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Calgary 2026 bid survives council vote

"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.

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"You've asked us at many turns not to be emotional, but your presentation today was underpinned by emotion," she said. 

"Discussions are still ongoing with the city, but we felt it was important once we got the confirmation from the province and federal government this evening, just to be fully transparent, put out the update and put out the numbers best we could this evening in lieu of knowing there was a vote tomorrow morning at council about this matter," Millar 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.

READ THE LATEST ON THIS STORY | Council votes to resurrect Olympic bid from near-death, let Calgarians weigh in at plebisciteThe federal and provincial governments have reached an agreement to consider a funding proposal that would mean the public dollars are in place to fund the 2026 Winter Olympics in Calgary, if a hesitant city council agrees to sign on. 

"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."

A day earlier, he said it wouldn't make sense to move forward without a funding agreement in place between municipal, provincial and federal levels of government — something they up until now hadn't been able to forge amid public spats last weekend and a marathon negotiation session Tuesday.

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.

So the Calgary Olympic bid might be back on after all. Three levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – came to a deal late last night about how to fund Calgarys proposed bid to host the 2026 Winter Games. The deal would see Ottawa stick to its guns about funding just half of the public money needed for the project, but the overall bill for taxpayers would apparently decline to $2.875-billion from $3-billion. Now its up to the people of Calgary to decide whether or not they still want to go ahead with the bid. City council will vote today and, if that goes ahead, the voters of Calgary will have their say in a plebiscite on Nov. 13.

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.

Andray Domise (Macleans) on the aftermath of hate-fueled attacks, such as the one at a Pittsburgh synagogue: It is a comforting, paralyzing lie to believe that we have ever lived in a time when cerebral efforts, or words of sympathy uttered to the Almighty, could be enough for what we face, enough even to dam the flood of racialized violence that has been unleashed in the wake of a white supremacist becoming the most powerful man in the world. And yet, in the wake of this tragedy, we recite platitudes to support that fiction, while doing little more than exposing vulnerable people to more violence, and more hatred.

During the lead-up to the vote, much attention was focused on picking apart the financial details of the funding proposal.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to apologize next week for a historical injustice to Jewish people. In 1939, the Canadian government (led by Prime Minister Mackenzie King) rejected the asylum claim of the MS St. Louis, a ship carrying 900 German Jewish refugees trying to escape the Nazi regime. In the end the ship had to return to Europe, where more than 250 of its passengers were killed for who they were. Current Jewish community leaders tell The Canadian Press they hope Mr. Trudeau will address the anti-Semitism that is still around today, including the horrific attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh last weekend.

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.

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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.

Tim Powers (The Hill Times) on the Conservative Partys criticisms of the media: Borrowing a page from Stephen Harper, not so much Trump, Scheer and his team have amped up the familiar Conservative whine: the media are mostly Liberals, they are against us; the commentators, the same; anyone who isnt one of us is most definitely against us. In the past, this has proven to be fundraising gold for the Tories and further fuel for the base.

"Stay out of the ugly conversations, get off Twitter," he said, to the applause of his fellow councillors.

But even though the circumstances have often seemed absurd, the province and Ottawa have at least shown they can finally agree on a major benefit for Calgary and the province. This absolutely should be approved by council, and go to the voters for a final ruling Nov. 13.

Calgary city council to vote on killing 2026 Winter Games bid, funding proposal on the table

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.”

Ottawa, Alberta reach agreement on funding proposal for Calgary 2026 Olympic bid

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.

Calgary city council to vote on cancelling bid for 2026 Winter Games

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. 

The $150 million already committed to improving the Victoria Park area — which is a proposed games hub — was included in the citys contribution to 2026 as a credit, in order to get matching funds from the federal government.

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.

“Over the next few days I will be trying to explain this deal to people, but Im now at the point where I can actually say to people this is a great deal weve negotiated and Im encouraging people to vote yes.”

"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.

CALGARY — A potential Calgary bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games survived a city council vote Wednesday, when a motion leading to the cancellation of an upcoming plebiscite did not pass.

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.”

Calgary councillor to introduce motion for end to 2026 Olympic bid

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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