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Calgary 2026 CEO won't receive bonuses for plebiscite vote, bid selection

The new CEO for Calgary 2026 will not receive performance bonuses for successfully shepherding an Olympic bid through a fall plebiscite, or in the event Calgary is selected to host the Games.

The head of the bid corporations’s board clarified Friday that Mary Moran declined any bonuses over and above her base salary of $290,250.

The move comes after opponents of the bid were vocal in their opposition to previously announced plans to reward Moran for meeting key targets.

“She will earn the same compensation she received at Calgary Economic Development in 2017 and 2018, which is $290,250 per annum, pro-rated for the remainder of the year,” bidco chair Scott Hutcheson wrote in a Postmedia column published Friday.

“Mary declined the opportunity to earn the higher compensation recommended by the search firm and any bonuses for a successful plebiscite or bid.”

Hutcheson had previously suggested Moran would receive bonuses for meeting those targets. In an interview Friday, he explained his previous comments were made before a contract with Moran had been signed.

“It seemed as though there was some resistance to this, and it would create behaviour that some of the public didn’t like,” he said. “So in order to make this work in a little different way, Mary just said, let’s not have bonuses attached to this compensation.”

Hutcheson also credited Moran for turning down a higher base salary figure that was originally recommended by the search committee. “I think the responsibilities of her current job are much bigger, but this is the kind of person Mary is.”

Arden Dalik, senior partner with Global Governance Advisors, which specializes in executive compensation, called it a “smart move” to curtail a bonus structure at this stage of the bid process.

“It is what I’d call a quasi-public sector job, because it is public dollars. It’s going to very high profile,” Dalik said. “Putting bonuses in place at this stage is not appropriate. For one, the Alberta temperature for bonuses, especially in the public sector, there really has been tremendous push back on that.”

Dalik said Calgary 2026 won’t want to be accused of pre-judging the outcome of the plebiscite — particularly when it’s a non-binding vote and city council could still approve going forward with a bid regardless of the outcome.

“It doesn’t then need to be tainted by someone saying, ‘Well, Mary just wanted to get her bonus.’ That would just be a bad situation to try to deal with.”

Dalik said if Calgary was to win the bid, introducing a bonus structure based on very specific targets for delivering venues and staying under budget would make sense.

“At this stage of the game, I think they’re really being very smart with the way they’re handling it.”

Skeptics of the bid remain critical of Calgary 2026, arguing it’s an organization more closely attuned to the desires of the International Olympic Committee than Calgarians.

No Calgary Olympics organizer Erin Waite said the fact Calgary 2026 had initially considered bonuses tied to a positive bid outcome suggests it’s an organization committed to a bid “at any cost.”

However, Hutcheson says while the Games won’t be pursued at all costs, Calgary 2026’s mandate isn’t to remain neutral, but to put together a successful bid with the input of Calgarians.

“Our mandate is not to be irresponsible, nor is it to be neutral; it’s to put together a bid that Calgarians would want.”

City council will make the final decision on whether Calgary will proceed or not with a bid for the 2026 Olympics.



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Cool Runnings II: Electric Boogaloo The games heading back to Calgary in 2026? CBC: Winter Olympics bid in 2026 being considered, Calgary mayor confirms

The handover at the Murmansk 2034 Closing Ceremony is going to be epic - a million dancing Elon Musks highkicking to 'Putin-g On The Ritz'!

...& meanwhile, at IOC Headquaters:

“It’s something Calgary is being advised not to ignore as it works at giving its bid an appealing sense of purpose — a key factor in winning a bid at the IOC.

“The reason that Chicago failed for 2016: It didn’t have a story,” Mr Pound said.

“Nobody knew why they were doing it. The contrasting one was London beating Paris [for the 2012 Summer Games]. It had a story why London would be good for the Olympics and for youth that resonated. The aspirational aspect of it was there and I don’t think we [at Calgary 2026] have our hands around that particular bowl of Jell-O.” End Quote

I think Pound is being too old school here with his head seemingly in the sand. Back in the day, when cities were tripping over themselves to fight to host the Games that was the case. But now when less & less cities want to be bothered, the IOC can’t be sticking to the same ole strategy of the past that “they didn’t have a story to tell” & “they need to have a purpose”.

These days, the IOC would be lucky enough to have a story to tell & a purpose themselves ITFP. I mean, really - what kind story & purpose did Beijing 2022 have other than still being there when everyone else that was credible dropped out. Let’s get real, Pound.

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I agree, however, that a multiple-city bid would be much easier to execute in a place like Northern Italy versus Western Canada. But in both cases, neither are stories or purposes. It’s only a logistical advantage by one over another brought forth by the dire circumstances of Olympic bidding races these days.

Although, once you were to add Sweden to the mix (if indeed their bid happened to get everything in order), then there we would have a story & a purpose for Stockholm 2026 (spread-out to Are & Latvia or not). But that’s far from the actual scenario in this case.

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The tax increase should be about $110 per household per year for two decades rather than $500 for three decades if my roughly guesstimated calculations are accurate. But it's still a lot of money for Calgarians to shell out, especially since I didn't budget for a new Flames arena in my numbers. There would no doubt be less enthusiasm if they tied the Olympics to a tax increase.

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23 hours ago, FYI said:

The article said $500 per year for 20 years, not three decades. And how are you coming up with your guesstimated numbers anyway.

I based it on Vancouver's numbers. (Vancouver 2010 spent $693 million CAD in 2018 dollars on venue construction with total taxpayer funding of $2.4 billion CAD in 2018 dollars.) Add in the extra half billion the IOC are contributing and Calgary should need roughly half the taxpayer funding of Vancouver. 

It's sad that people view this purely from the perspective of "let's spend whatever amount it takes to get the Olympics" vs "I won't give a penny for any events." This should be a cost vs benefit analysis for Calgary. It is worth some investment in winter sports to make Calgary a better place to live and work. The question is how much is that benefit worth to Calgary?

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Calgary 2026 bid details to be rolled out as city gears up for plebiscite

CALGARY -- Calgarians are about to get a close look at what hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games would entail.

The bid corporation Calgary 2026 will present to city council early next week a draft hosting plan, which will outline the investment required and the legacy left should the city go ahead with a bid.

"I think we have to show that all the parties are doing hard work to get to where we need to get to," 2026 chair Scott Hutcheson said.

The International Olympic Committee's deadline to submit 2026 bids is January. The successful city will be named in September 2019.

A non-binding plebiscite asking Calgarians to support or reject hosting a Winter Games is scheduled for Nov. 13. The vote would be cancelled, however, if city council decides to bail on a bid.

Council had set Sept. 10 as both a deadline to be fully informed on the risks, costs and benefits of 2026, as well as an off-ramp should council be unsatisfied with the information.

The draft hosting plan is expected to be unveiled the following day, however, on Sept. 11.

The city's Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games assessment committee chaired by Coun. Evan Woolley was presented with the draft hosting plan in a closed meeting Tuesday.

"Next week, Calgarians will be given the vast majority of information they need to make a decision on whether we should or shouldn't host an Olympics," Woolley said.

"That will include capital costs as well as operating budgets associated with Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Games. Legacy venues such as the speedskating oval and the nordic centre in nearby Canmore are foundational to a potential 2026 bid.

"Yes Calgary 2026" and "No Calgary Olympics" organizations have been mobilizing.

The city conducted a poll in July to take the public's temperature towards hosting another Winter Games.

Of the 500 Calgarians surveyed by telephone, 53 per cent either strongly or somewhat supported a bid, 33 per cent were opposed, 13 per cent were undecided and one per cent refused opinion.

The margin of error was 4.38 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

The poll indicated the cost of hosting was top of mind for all those surveyed.

While a Calgary Bid Exploration Committee estimated a price tag of $4.6 billion and games revenues covering almost half that figure, the estimate was projected to increase with a more detailed cost analysis.

By comparison, the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., cost roughly $7.7 billion.

Since CBEC produced its number, the IOC has committed to giving the successful 2026 host city US$925 million, or CDN$1.2 billion, in cash and services.

But missing from the draft hosting plan would be the financial contributions of the federal and provincial governments to the games. Those numbers aren't expected until early October.

The province has committed to providing its figure 30 days before the plebiscite.

Coun. Druh Farrell feels what the province and the feds will pay is crucial information council and the public needs now.

"We still don't have all the information we need in order to make an informed decision," she said. "We still haven't received assurances from other orders of government on the partnership and what they would mean.

"We have some estimates and there's a range, but we really can't talk about them with any certainty until we have an agreement.

"I remain concerned about the financial aspect of this. We would be really putting all our energy into sport -- I think sport is incredibly important to Calgary -- but it would leave very little room for other priorities."

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said any agreement between the three levels of government has to make hosting affordable for the city and fit its existing capital priorities.

But the financials he's seen so far have made him optimistic.

"(It's) Absolutely doable in terms of things we need to build, things that are priorities in any case," the mayor said. "I am very comfortable with going to the people with this plebsicite."

A public engagement program will be rolled out starting next week.

The city will attempt to lay out the nuts and bolts of the hosting plan in a neutral tone, while Calgary 2026 is expected to be more pro-Games in its message as the champion of a bid.

"I think you're going to see an unbelievably robust, broad and in-depth engagement with Calgarians around a whole range of topics in the coming 10 weeks," Woolley said.


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Yes Calgary 2026 has taken a huge gamble. They've released their own figures for the cost of the 2026 Olympics should Calgary host. They are projecting a cost of $5.8 million. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/olympics-bid-council-plebiscite-2026-1.4813831

Breaking down the numbers this is what they've come up with.

$2.5 billion for running the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

$1.1 billion for new facilities and upgrading existing facilities.

$1 billion for security.

$1 billion for housing.

$200 million for an endowment to maintain Olympic facilities into the future.

If they are right on this, then I say the bid might have a shot at securing the 50+ percent needed in the referendum. If they are off, the bid is cooked. Looking at the figures, I am judging they are not counting on a new arena for the Flames or even a new fieldhouse. Where I find sketicism is in the $1 billion for security. That seems a bit low.

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Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary Olympics pitch gets pushback


Alberta jumps would be too expensive to refurbish for the Games, BidCo head says

An International Olympic Committee official once said the commute from Vancouver to Whistler, B.C., for the 2010 Winter Games was "too far."

Now, the IOC says it's OK for Calgary to hold ski jumping outside the province of Alberta, should the city decide to bid on the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The bid corporation Calgary 2026 proposes reusing the 2010 ski jumping venue in Whistler for that sport and nordic combined, which is a combination of ski jumping and cross-country skiing.

But there's resistance in Calgary to giving Olympic events to another province.

City councillor Joe Magliocca invoked oil pipeline politics in chambers recently, saying the handover of Olympic ski jumping to B.C. would be "a slap in the face to the energy sector." He was referencing Alberta's desire to build a pipeline to the west coast and B.C.'s opposition to it.

Ski jumping should stay in the host city, he said.

"If we're going to host it, let's host it here in Alberta," Magliocca said. "We're paying for it and our citizens are going to be paying for it."

Debate about ski jumping's location in 2026 invariably sparks another debate about the sport's survival in Canada.

"Without renovating or building new jumps in Calgary the sport will pretty much die off," said 17-year-old Calgary jumper Abigail Strate. "It will be very hard to keep the sport going with only the Whistler jump."

In an effort to make hosting games cheaper and more sustainable, and thus attract more bid cities, the IOC now considers it a positive in a bid when a city makes "the maximum use of existing facilities and the use of temporary and demountable venues where no long-term venue legacy need exists or can be justified."

BidCo says Calgary too expensive

Calgary 2026 chief executive officer Mary Moran told The Canadian Press the cost of renovating the ski jumps from the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary would be five times higher than holding the event in Whistler.

"If we have a ski jump that is going to drive five times the cost, then we've got to back away from it," she said. "We really need to be responsible in creating our plan.

"If we have concerned citizens and athletes, we're happy to sit down and walk them through our decision making."

Using Whistler's relatively new competition jumps is a cost savings of $40 million, Moran said.

The ski jumping community disagrees with how much money it would take to bring the '88 ski jumps at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park up to Olympic standards.

"We believe that the existing facilities at WinSport can be refurbished up to international standards for marginally more than what it costs to (hold) it at Whistler," Alberta Ski Jumping chair Mike Bodnarchuk said.

A 2017 report by the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee offered three options with different price tags: construct a new ski jump near Canmore, Alta., ($100 million); renovate Calgary's jumps, slopes and landing bowl from the '88 Games ($70 million); hold ski jumping and nordic combined in the 2010 venue near Whistler ($35 million).

Wrong numbers, advocate says

Ski Jumping Canada chair Todd Stretch says CBEC's estimate to overhaul the '88 site was inflated.

"Right from the get-go, we said those numbers were wrong," Stretch said.

No one has launched from the tallest tower — the 120-metre hill — in about 15 years.

The 90-metre and three developmental jumps are used by approximately 85 club, provincial and Canadian-team athletes, Bodnarchuk said.

The location is conveniently within city limits, but also in the path of flight-altering winds out of the west.

Decommissioning coming

Citing a cost of $500,000 annually to keep development ramps operating, WinSport plans to decommission them unless the ski jumping community raises enough money to keep them going.

Getting the competition jumps up to international standards again would be akin to building a new facility, according to WinSport's chief executive officer.

"The complex would have to be completely rebuilt," Barry Heck said. "When you buy an old house, you either pull it down or start over and do a massive renovation and it almost costs the same."


Both Bodnarchuk and Stretch dispute Heck's assessment the 30-year-old Calgary jumps require a complete gut job to be usable in 2026.

An outside-the-box proposal that's been floated is dismantling the Whistler jumps and moving them to Calgary.

Moving jumps expensive option

Whistler Legacies Society CEO Roger Soane says unscrewing the bolts, pulling the structures apart with steel cutters and hauling the materials to Calgary is theoretically possible, but there would be a significant expense.

He also said the hill's slope and landing area must meet certain specifications set by FIS, the world governing body of skiing, for safety reasons.

"I don't think materials are the most expensive part of a structure like that. It's the slope design which has to be very specific," Soane said. "(It) is finding the right profile of hill to put them on."

The profile of WinSport's big jump no longer meets FIS standards, so moving a significant amount of earth would be required in a rebuild, Heck said.

Ski jumping has been an Olympic sport since the first Winter Games in 1924. Europeans and Japanese dominate the sport. Canada's best result in Olympic ski jumping was Horst Bulau's seventh in 1988. Canada didn't compete in ski jumping in the 1994, 1998 or 2002 Winter Games.

The introduction of women's ski jumping boosted the country's international results. Taylor Henrich finished fifth at the 2015 world championship and won a World Cup bronze medal that season.

Difficulty retaining athletes

Canada qualified one male and one female for this year's Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They finished outside the top 20.

Calgary jumpers feel their sport won't endure in Canada if Whistler becomes the only place in the country to pursue it. Soane admits ski jumping is a tough sell in the Whistler area.

"We have kids that love to come and try ski jumping because they see the jumps and they want to be adventurous," Soane said. "We have a problem retaining them. I don't know if it's exhilarating enough for them.

"We live in a corridor where people love to throw themselves off the mountain. There's so many options there with big air and freestyle."


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Column: How to face the complexity of a Calgary 2026 decision

On Nov. 13, Calgarians will be asked to cast potentially the most important ballot of their lives. We will directly weigh in on whether we want our city to bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. At its core, it forces each of us to try to weigh the pros and cons of a decision, to consider the costs and estimate the benefits. And, one of the largest events in the world, this is complicated. Here are a few of the complicated numbers you’ll need to consider:

$5,230,000,000: The estimated total cost (operating & infrastructure) of the 2026 Olympic & Paralympic Games;

3,000,000,000: Estimated required public funding from all levels of government;

$2,233,000,000: The forecasted IOC and private sector funding;

$1,762,000,000: The estimated amount of funding to be focused on legacy construction;

30,000: The approximate number of line items in the 2026 budget;

5,400: The number of pages in the 2017 Calgary Bid Exploration Committee Report;

2,600: New housing units to be built for the Games;

2,200: Forecasted jobs;

8: Renovated sports facilities in the plan;

2: New Calgary field house and community arena;

0: New NHL-calibre arena.

This is a big complex question. A multibillion-dollar question, yes. But it’s also a question of how our city — and our citizens’ lives — might be changed for generations. Some ripples will be positive, others not so much.

The trouble with big questions is that they’re complex, confusing and painful to answer. Research shows that a common human response to complex problems is to pursue simplicity and comfort. We look for shortcuts and bubble-wrap ourselves in a comfort zone of people who agree with us.

We selectively search for or interpret information in ways that confirm our existing beliefs and ignore information to the contrary. Research shows we’re four times more likely to ignore information we don’t agree with.

Our desire for simplicity and comfort, though a logical, human response, creates more problems than it solves. Fortunately, researchers have explored effective ways to approach these kinds of problems. We thought it might be helpful for Calgary voters to consider this research as they approach the 2026 Bid or No Bid Vote.

Albert Einstein once said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.”

What he meant is that asking the right questions is far more important than answering the wrong ones. Applied to the 2026 Games, there are many small but important questions that you need to think about and prioritize at a personal level. This isn’t easy as these questions are endless. Here are just a few:

  • If Calgary votes to not bid, what are the implications?
  • Does using the Games as a means to build affordable housing units make sense?
  • How important is keeping the existing Olympic and Paralympic infrastructure (e.g. WinSport, Oval) for the future of the city?
  • How important is upgrading McMahon Stadium, the Saddledome or Stampede Park to the city?
  • How important is it that Calgary has a field house?
  • Will these investments positively or negatively impact my commute?
  • How much of the costs are coming out of my pocket, compared to the pockets of the International Olympic Committee, sponsors and broadcasters?
  • With billions in public funding required to host, if we decide to not bid, will this save me money?

By answering, evaluating and prioritizing your smaller questions, you will have enough evidence to decide on your vote. But there’s more to keep in mind.

Beware of shortcuts to an answer. So-called experts will try to persuade you that this big decision is a simple balance sheet. They will debate cost, depreciation, risk and revenues. They will tell you that you can measure every cost and every benefit. They are wrong.

After breaking down the big question into smaller and more personal ones, it will be apparent that the 2026 decision can’t be transformed into a magic number — regardless of how appealing this sounds. The systematic and personal ripple effects make the answer far more complex than that, with many intangible implications to consider.

Over the next two months, there will be well-intentioned and passionate people trying to persuade you on the merits of a Yes or a No vote. Make sure to recognize you’re being persuaded and ask yourself who is trying to sell you and why. The choice to invest (or not) in new sport, cultural, transportation and housing assets is not about the Games, rather it is about the impacts that will result and affect (or not) every facet of Calgary.

For some, they are passionate Olympic advocates and the benefits may be obvious to them. For others, they may be ideologically opposed to the principle of investing public funds into any sport, cultural or housing infrastructure.

Both are trying to persuade you based on their own deeply rooted values and beliefs. Your job is to cut through the clutter and attempt to make your own objective decision, rooted in your own values and beliefs, informed by evidence.

You may hear arguments like, “the Games are amazing, just look at Vancouver 2010!” Or, “the Games are a disaster, just look at Montreal 1976!” Be wary of anyone who tries to generalize really complex questions by blindly benchmarking to other games. This may sound logical and be persuasive, but it’s wrong. Case studies are inevitably contextual. Summer Games are not Winter Games. Canada is not Brazil or Russia. We aren’t living in the 1970s. The only real numbers that matter are related to Calgary in 2026. If people try to persuade you by using Rio or Sochi as examples, call their bluff.

On Nov. 13, Calgarians will be asked to vote on a decision that may impact the city for decades. This is overwhelming. Be patient. Ask questions. Collect the facts. Be aware when you are being persuaded. Personalize the impacts for you, your family and your community. This is not only a big decision for our city. It’s ultimately a very big decision for you and your family.


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I don't understand why the total costs for Calgary would be so high compared to Vancouver 2010 when you consider the fact that Calgary has way more in place than Vancouver did and has a much lower cost of living. (Calgary's cost of living is 31% lower than in Vancouver, so wages should be much lower.) Inflation of the CAD has only increased 15% since 2010. Are they using 2026 dollars (and thus assuming future inflation rates) or are these contemporary figures?

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Opposition group claim Calgary 2026 have failed to meet plebiscite commitments and demand issues be addressed

NoCalgaryOlympics have accused Calgary 2026 of failing to meet commitments prior to November’s plebiscite, claiming they have not provided full information on the plan and costs.

The group have also alleged the commitment to providing a robust community engagement from June by the City Council has not been met.

Calgary 2026 outlined their proposal publicly earlier this month, with the Bid Committee asserting the Games would cost CAD$5.3 billion (£3.1 billion/$4 billion/€3.5 billion).

This would include CAD$3 billion (£1.8 billion/$2.3 billion/€2 billion) of city, provincial and federal funding.

An indoor venue for figure skating and short track speed skating and a mid-size arena to seat between 5,000 and 6,000 people were cited as the only two new facilities which would need to be constructed.

A confirmed venue for curling was not included in the proposals, which has led to criticism from NoCalgaryOlympics.

The group claim it was referred to as a draft within a day of the plan being unveiled.

The absence of a curling venue has also been criticised, with discussions over a new National Hockey League venue having since been mooted by some councillors.

NoCalgaryOlympics insist that the public cannot be asked to vote on a draft plan, claiming a “real plan” is required.

A further claim was that the Calgary City Council have acknowledged their most recent briefing revealed additional City costs left out of the bid plan, while adding some Councillors are suggesting there could be further costs related to the remediation of land.

The group have requested the public call for Calgary 2026 to be “required to detail the actual plan with full costs, cost sharing commitments, cost overrun coverage and plans, and detailed venue plans by October 13”.

They claim “disclosure must include additional projects and costs that may not be technically required for the bid, but would be used in hosting the Olympics” and have urged the Bid Committee to produce this by the same date.

Further demands include the Calgary City Council being required to “provide a report to Calgarians by October 13 that reconciles the Calgary 2026 bid plan to the five principles that City Council unanimously agreed must be met to continue with a Bid process”, including stating residents would not be required to cover cost overruns.

They also want the City Council to report on the "impact on the four-year budget of the Calgary 2026 bid plan and disclose this to Calgarians".

NoCalgaryOlympics claim this should include details on operating costs, capital investments, impact on property taxes and impact on debt.

They argue the current budget is not scheduled to be presented until the day after the plebiscite.

NoCalgaryOlympics say this goes against the Alberta Government’s criteria for information provision to Calgarians, which promised that their funding requirement ensured the public had full information about the plan and costs 30 days prior to the vote.

The campaign group claim to have written a letter to Olympic Oversight Committee chair, Councillor Evan Woolley.

The letter requests their four demands be met in order to adhere to the Alberta Government requirements and provide “good faith" to residents.

The plebiscite is set to take place on November 13.


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Calgary 2026 CEO peppered with mostly skeptical questions on call-in show

With seven weeks left before the Calgary-only non-binding plebiscite on whether the city should host the 2026 Winter Olympics, the CEO of the bid corp was on the defensive and more often than not on a call-in show, it was a hard sell.

"This city needs a win really badly and everybody in downtown Calgary knows that as well as Mayor Naheed Nenshi. We haven't been able to do anything bold for a long time and this is an opportunity to get out of that rut," Mary Moran has said.

The bid corporation says hosting will cost about $5.2 billion with about $3 billion coming from taxpayers from all levels of government. The rest should be covered by private funds like IOC funding, merchandising and ticket sales.

That however — says former Calgary MLA Tom Sindlinger — is pie in the sky kind of stuff and there are always overruns in Games that aren't part of the budgeting process.

Moran joined Alberta@Noon Tuesday to field questions and make her case in favour of the now controversial bid.

Here's some of that hour-long conversation edited and paraphrased for clarity and length, and here's the complete show.

Alberta@Noon: Economists and others have said the $5.2-billion estimate is low and unrealistic.

Mary Moran: We had a team of about 30 experts with years of experience, they built a budget. We are very confident in this number and we understand the risks and opportunities.

We've put the A-team on this. We have shared this with all of our government partners who have all hired auditors who have spent six to eight weeks reviewing everything and we have fielded thousands of questions.

Alberta@Noon: Documents leaked recentlyshow the estimates don't include a lot of things, like removing the Victoria Park bus barns.

MM: I can't comment on that, because I have not seen the document, but it is not uncommon for cities to have closed-door conversations about incremental costs outside of the games that are probably in urban development or city plans.

Caller Gary from Calgary asked why a new stadium/events centre was not included in the bid, but added he's against the bid because of the corruption and dysfunction within the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

MM: We are in a bid competition with winter cities that have great venues. Some have all the venues, they don't have to build any.

The IOC would like to see the utilization of existing venues with minimal costs to upgrading. They have difficulty justifying infrastructure that will only be used for 50 days for public consumption. They want venues that are public access.

There are often infrastructure projects that are inspired by the Games. We saw that in Vancouver with both the Canada Line and Sea-to-Sky Highway where the province, the federal government, Vancouver and Whistler agreed that these were important projects.

I hope that Calgary and the Calgary Flames are having a different discussion today than they were a few weeks ago. If a new [sports and entertainment complex] can get completed for the Games, then it's going to be a better experience for everybody. We hope the Games inspire this.

Canada is a leader in clean and ethical sport. We demonstrated that in Vancouver and we plan on demonstrating that to the world, including the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency by hosting the Games here. We have a tremendous amount of expertise in this area.

Caller Tom from Spruce Grove, Alta., asks if the province and federal government are contributing, why is the plebiscite only in Calgary?

MM: That is a City of Calgary question and should be directed to them.

Alberta@Noon: How do you respond to the many people who feel we just can't afford it?

MM: Three billion dollars of the estimate would come from three levels of government. The federal government has committed to up to half of that, $1.5 billion. The investment will not come into this community unless we host the games. It is not earmarked for anything else other than an international sporting event that will go to another community. That leaves the province and Calgary with a total of $1.5 billion to cover. We are renewing 11 venues, building two new ones that will continue to generate revenue as a winter sports city.

The City of Calgary and the Bow Valley corridor host more world cups than any other location in the world, so if we don't invest in these infrastructure projects then we will see a deterioration in tourist dollars.

I think the question should be, "Can we afford not to do the Games?"

Caller Jim from Calgary wanted to know about the plans for a curling venue and how ticket availability be managed with scalpers, sold-out situations, corporate block-buying?

MM: We are looking across the province for curling venues and have four or five options now but they are commercially sensitive so can't be disclosed at this time.

We have about 70 per cent of tickets allocated for spectators. There is usually more demand than tickets. A lottery-type process is common and we will be looking for best practices to try and mitigate scalping the best we can.

Made sense at one time, not today

A former MLA for Calgary-Buffalo and economic analyst has deep concerns. He called in to share his thoughts.

Tom Sindlinger: I am for the Olympic spirit. I am a former Canadian champion, a hall-of-famer in Alberta, but as an economic analyst I have questions and concerns about the cost of the Olympics.

If we take just the minimum numbers and divide by the number of Calgary households, it's over $5,000 per household, when you factor in most Calgary residents pay municipal, provincial and federal taxes.

Olympic experience has shown us, that the actual costs are much more than the original estimates. Then there are the interest costs.

Both the Calgary and provincial governments have maxed out their credit cards. Anything we are going to be doing, we are going to be borrowing money. Anyone with a mortgage or car loan knows you pay more on interest than on the principle.

The economy in 1988 was way better.

We could fund infrastructure better ourselves.

We could build three NHL arenas in Calgary plus have enough left over to buy the Calgary Flames. It would be less expensive to do these things on our own rather than pay for a lot of things we don't need.

The majority of Calgarians don't even know about the plebiscite.

Alberta@Noon: Is there anything that could change your mind?

Tom Sindlinger: If you could give me a net benefit from the Olympic Games, I'd say go ahead. But study after study shows there is no net benefit to hosting them.

Quite a few people and experts are saying it is financial folly to host the Olympic Games today. At one time it did make sense, today it's completely different.

That's why the IOC is having trouble finding any city that is dumb enough to host them today. City after city are backing out of this after the initial approach by the IOC.

Mary Moran says, however, it's possible for this to be a financial win for Calgary.

MM: The actual Games operations are 91 per cent funded by private revenue, so IOC revenue, domestic sponsors, ticketing, merchandising, almost pay for the games.

The additional costs are what it costs to host the games, so security, essential services, snow removal, transportation, waste removal, they all increase because we have most visitors here but a large percentage of the costs we are asking for the governments to pay into, is capital investment into venues, new and renewed, and 2,800 units of inclusive housing.

This is about building on a legacy we already have, adding a few new venues and dealing with a housing issue, so we can host the athletes but also leave legacy of inclusive housing for seniors, low-income people and our Indigenous partners.

We will be able to utilize that for years to come.

Alberta@Noon: How will McMahon Stadium be improved if the bid is successful?

MM: It will be renewed, everything from the lobbies to the backroom services, entrances, washrooms. It's quite a significant lift for McMahon Stadium.

Caller Jeff in Calgary is all for the Games.

Jeff: It's a great opportunity for the city and the country. It will be an amazing volunteer opportunity. It's a once a generation that someone gets to experience something like this.

Alberta@Noon: What about the cost?

Jeff: The cost is important. We have to trust in these people bidding and our politicians, they that are trying to do the very best for the citizens of our city and province.

I may not want to pay the $5,000 initially but over the course of the years after and the benefits, I think that outweighs the cost of it.





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Whistleblower deserves 'gold medal' for leaking Calgary Olympic documents: taxpayers group

Advocacy group the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is praising a whistleblower who leaked municipal documents pertaining to Calgary's potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

"All costs need to be laid clearly on the table. Calgarians have a right to know the total bill that will come with hosting the 2026 Olympics," said the group's Alberta director Franco Terrazzano in an emailed statement.

"Whoever this mysterious whistleblower is, they deserve a gold medal."

The documents show there are additional costs above and beyond the $5.2 billion estimated by the Calgary bid exploration committee that council will have to consider if Calgary hosts the Games.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he will be writing to the integrity commissioner to request a full investigation into the leak.

City manager Jeff Fielding also said he'll be directing corporate security to undertake an investigation of administration in regard to the leaked document.

Council discussed the leak during a late evening session Monday, after Coun. Jeromy Farkas submitted an inquiry into both the debt burden of the 1988 Olympics and what the repayment schedule would be like for 2026.

"I am deeply troubled with the fact, not that we're coming forward with this motion arising, but that a leaked document lead to doing this," said Coun. Peter Demong.

"In the eight years that I've been here, I can count on my left hand the times we've seen a leaked document of this proportion."

Nenshi said during the meeting that the original document leaked was devoid of context. He said a new report will contain more information once it's released at the next meeting of the Olympic oversight committee.

Terrazzano said he doesn't think the city should be working to track down the whistleblower. He called on council to release a final cost tally before Calgarians weigh in on the non-binding plebiscite on Nov. 13.

"City Hall should be making additional efforts to increase transparency, not tracking down someone who is providing taxpayers with information they deserve," he said.



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Gord Gillies: Still leaning ‘Yes,’ but not sold on Calgary 2026 yet

I checked out one of the public engagement sessions on whether Calgary should bid for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games put on by the Bidco.

It was… interesting.

An informal show of hands at the beginning of the presentation revealed most of the 100 or so people in attendance supported Calgary’s Olympic bid. There were also several people planning to vote “no” and a few in the undecided camp.

Bidco CEO Mary Moran walked the audience through a wide range of issues.

Topping the list was a breakdown of the much-debated $5.2-billion price tag. Moran said she’s confident of the numbers and they include a cushion for “unexpected” developments. Cost overruns remain the biggest concern for most of the “no” people I talked to who don’t believe those numbers are firm. While Moran certainly highlighted the benefits for Calgary, including revamped and new Olympic facilities, I appreciated that she didn’t brush over potential risks.

There was a Q-and-A session after the presentation and one of the most interesting questions came from an admitted “Yes” supporter. A woman talked about the elephant in the room — the International Olympic Committee — who many believe to be corrupt and out of touch with the real world.

“Should Calgary jump into bed with this group?” was asked.

The answer from the Bidco? Something along the lines that the IOC is changing and Calgary can take advantage of that.

I was looking for something a little stronger.

If I decide to vote “No” to the Olympic bid, my dislike of the IOC will be the biggest reason.

Sure there’s a lot of talk about how they’ve changed when it comes to helping potential host cities on the cost of a games, but it’s how they treat the cheaters that boils my blood.

Russia flat-out scammed the world in Sochi in 2014 and was caught red handed. To this day they deny any wrongdoing.

The fact Russian athletes were able to compete in South Korea earlier this year, even without waving their flag, is nothing short of shameful. The recent IOC decision to reinstate the Russian Olympic doping committee is another joke.

Please, spend a couple of hours watching the Academy Award winning documentary Icarus if you want to learn more.

After the presentation I interviewed two Calgarians who came out to hear the pitch.

Gary Silberg is in the “No” camp, Cindy Browning is a “Yes” supporter. Both felt they learned more from attending the Open House, but there was nothing in it to change their views.

Here’s my conversation with them both:

So, just a few weeks away from the November 13th plebiscite and I remain a soft “Yes.”

I’m still hopeful that the final funding numbers will be something manageable and my heart truly believes Calgary needs something to get excited about.

Is this the ticket? Maybe.

But I’m still waiting for a “Wow” moment to seal the deal for me.


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