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NoCalgaryOlympics responds to reports on distraction of Olympic Bid process

City Council Reports on Calgary 2026 Bid Distraction
Calgarians now know true cost

Monday, June 17, 2019 Calgarians’ long wait is over to learn from Council what was spent in the
failed attempt to convince Calgarians to bid for the 2026 Olympic Games. Starting with a $5.0
million feasibility study in 2017, City Council invested $7 million, and thousands of man-hours
pursuing an Olympic bid. All three levels of government combined to spend $17.7 million.

Nowhere in the reports tabled with Council today is an assessment of how well the time and money
were invested, what could have been improved, lessons learned for future mega-projects or highrisk pursuits,

or how benefits cited in the report will be realized. Nowhere is there a reflection on
reasons not to pursue an Olympic Bid, particularly, what was learned about the attributes of an
acceptable project partner for Calgarians. In the report, like the bid development process,
opportunity costs are left out.

Since April 2018, NoCalgaryOlympics sounded the alarm about the opportunity cost of a Bid. What
would not be accomplished in our city because of the distraction of chasing the Olympics?

Today, it seems reasonable to question whether that opportunity cost was the immediate and longer
term solution to the property tax crisis. We wonder if the small-business-owner protests in early
June would have been necessary at all, had City Council been focused on urgent City issues, rather
than distracted by wooing the IOC. Would a solution be in place today, if councillors worked
productively together in 2018 and early 2019, making better use of over 100 hours of meeting time?

It was only on the day after the plebiscite that Calgarians learned more about those opportunity
costs -- the real cost of being distracted from City issues. What many people might not know is that
City Council has lived with knowledge of the Property Tax crisis for almost 10 months. In that time,
the Priorities and Finance Committee of Council spent 49 hours and 50 minutes in meetings,
without making the Property Tax crisis a priority or working towards solutions.

Instead, from May to November 2018, an Olympic bid assessment committee of Council invested
another 44 hours and 45 minutes meeting in pursuit of an Olympic Bid. It’s unknown how many
people and hours of work by City staff and Council were displaced from City issues to, instead,
focus on research, planning and governing the Bid process.

The NoCalgaryOlympics campaign would not have been needed if proponents had honoured their
commitment to not pursue an “Olympics at any cost.”

We have many more questions:

1. Did the Olympic bid process also cost the City a solid year of effort by Calgary Economic
Development, Calgary Tourism, and the Chamber of Commerce on attracting new
businesses, attracting conferences and conventions, and helping Calgary businesses grow?

2. Without the Olympic bid process, would Council still have needed hours and meetings in
camera to fix their inability to work together, a dysfunction that continues to be prevalent?

3. Are there governance questions when councillors were on record months ago but unable to
focus Council attention on the imminent Property Tax crisis?

4. Is it a substantial breech of governance when the Olympic Bid assessment committee’s Chair
thoughtfully concludes against bidding, only to be ignored?

5. Is Council discipline and governance a concern when the Bid process was not stopped, even
after missing every single self-imposed deadline, and without basic funding prerequisites met?

Since Calgary folded the Bid process, the city of Denver passed an ordinance, by a substantial
margin, requiring their city council to obtain support via referendum before a single tax dollar can be
spent investigating being an Olympic host city. Some say this guarantees that Denver will never
host. But couldn’t Denver’s commitment also be a key driver to true IOC reform, or to ensure private
interests carry the initial risk, prior to an investment of public dollars?

NoCalgaryOlympics still holds out hope that City Council will make use of the work of the Bid
process. The research, assessment of assets, and plans to improve the City as part of Bid
preparation should stay on the agenda, if that was quality work with true merits for our city, and not
only to serve the IOC.

New York City, which pitched and failed to be a host city, has gone on to complete a number of
projects identified during Bid preparation, which is a smart way to take a big risk and then ensure
that the risk generates benefits, win or lose.

NoCalgaryOlympics’ efforts were focused on respectfully rounding out the discussion about the pros
and cons of bidding for the Olympics. We heard from Calgarians in all parts of the city that one of
the best outcomes was the conversation that the Bid inspired. There was a shift to focusing on
what’s next for Calgary. It seemed to finally put nostalgia for past accomplishments behind us so
that people could ask: what does Calgary aspire to be?

Calgary is a city we love with a history full of highlights, including the ’88 Olympics. Calgary has a
bright future that can include prosperity and vibrancy. But there is work we will all have to do
together to get through our economic challenges to thrive once again.

While Calgarians found themselves on opposite sides of the debate and plebiscite, we are confident
with the Bid process firmly behind us, we can work together as fellow citizens, community leaders,
and City Council to move Calgary forward.

For more information: Erin Waite – 403 804-6100 OR nocalgaryolympics@gmail.com



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  • 2 years later...

Resurrecting this thread since our attempt in 2018. How things have transpired here over the last few years since we had the plebiscite. Nothing has gotten better in Calgary, in fact things have gotten worse. It's a good thing we did not go for 2026. Here's an example:

CBC: Calgary's downtown office vacancy rate hit record high and may soon reach Depression-era levels, company says


Calgary's downtown office vacancy rate is on track to top 30 per cent and potentially reach a level unseen in a major North American city since the 1930s, a commercial real estate firm said Thursday.

Throw the pandemic in there and yikes. There's no end in sight for Calgary's woes, all due to the oil and gas crash. The downtown core is a visibly and eerily quiet. Some of the 88 infrastructure is taking a hit too. The Olympic Oval was shut down between last August and May of this year due to mechanical failure. Luckily it happened during the pandemic, but the athletes had to train elsewhere, either in Fort St. John or on outdoor lakes. The bobsled track still hasn't been rebuilt (the upper portion was demolished for a potential rebuild, but money is still a few million short). And at some point, the ski jumps are being demolished too with the exception of the 90 meter which will be kept as a historic site/tourist attraction. It definitely isn't the Calgary I moved to 10 years ago. A number of my acquaintances moved out, either back to BC or east. I'm thinking of heading back to BC myself.

On the other hand, some projects are being built. The BMO Centre is being expanded. This was to be the broadcast centre for 2026. The old Corral arena was demolished and groundbreaking on the expansion started a few months ago. Very recently, the LRT Green Line was given a green light by the federal government. Construction should begin shortly. And the new events centre/NHL arena discussions are still ongoing. Construction was supposed to start next month, but discussions/agreements have been stalled with the Flames. The new centre is going in on the two Stampede parking lots just north of the Saddledome. Once it's complete, the Saddledome is coming down. There's supposed to be a Green line LRT station just on the north side of the new events centre too. The Stampede grounds area is going to see construction for the majority of this decade. One problem though, why go ahead with these projects when the downtown core is quiet? We do have municipal elections this year, with a number of counselors and the mayor not seeking reelection, so we'll see what the future brings.

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Oh dear, what's the big problem there? Oil run out and nothing to replace it (often the oil rich places try to go for tourism but obviously that's been out for the last 18 months even) or a big price fall (don't prices usually go in cycles though)? Seems odd to think of Calgary as anything other than a boom town, hopefully things will get better :(

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4 hours ago, yoshi said:

Oh dear, what's the big problem there? Oil run out and nothing to replace it (often the oil rich places try to go for tourism but obviously that's been out for the last 18 months even) or a big price fall (don't prices usually go in cycles though)? Seems odd to think of Calgary as anything other than a boom town, hopefully things will get better :(

The crash started in 2015, but actually, started in late 2013. The small O&G company I was working for as a tech started to take a hit in late 2013 when they did the first layoff. The link to the article I put in my previous post is worth a read. Has a bunch of answers for you. Lots of young people are relocating too. The vibrancy is no longer here. Calgary had all it's eggs in one basket and failed to diversify earlier. The career I came out here for 10 years ago just did not materialize. I have stayed employed, albeit seasonally in something not related to my career, throughout this ordeal, but trying to pivot into my other background which is digital marketing. Maybe it's time to move on.

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3 hours ago, stryker said:

I also saw where the new arena is on hold due to budget concerns. Will the Saddledome still be demolished if plans for the new arena fall apart?

Here's the latest news today about the new arena...

CBC: City, Flames ownership each to pay millions more for new arena

The Saddledome would stay put if talks fall apart, but from the news today, looks like the new arena is a go.

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