Calgary’s bid to hold the 2026 Winter Olympics is over. The City Council voted Monday to end the bid following last week’s nonbinding vote in which 56 percent of those who went to the polls voted against the games.
Stockholm and a joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo are still in the running for 2026.
Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics. The venues from those games remain in use three decades later and were the foundation of plans for another Winter Games and Paralympics.
But a cost-sharing agreement among the federal, provincial and municipal governments wasn’t completed until Oct. 31 – less than two weeks before the vote at the polls.
The bid corporation Calgary 2026 estimated the total cost of hosting the games at $5.1 billion. The group asked for a $2.875 billion contribution split among the city, provincial and federal governments. The Alberta government committed $700 million and the Canadian government $1.45 billion. The city was asked to contribute $390 million.
“I’m disappointed in the plebiscite result and I think we will have a great deal of work to do as we move forward, because ultimately we did as a community say `no’ to a lot of funding,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in chambers. “Now our job is, as it always is, to continue to try and replace that funding.
“Certainly, there are people who are happy about the plebiscite result, there are people who are disappointed about the plebiscite result, but ultimately it was an opportunity to think about ourselves and think about our future and I think that’s a very good thing.”
How to a pay for a new indoor field house, which the city has long identified as a recreational need, and the renewal of the `88 legacy facilities that have helped make Canada a winter-sport powerhouse remain a priority, the mayor said.
The plan for 2026 had committed $502 million to the `88 venues to get them ready again.
“I think that we agree that our legacy as a winter-sport city is a really important part of our identity and a really important part of who we are,” Nenshi said.
The almost 2,000 housing units that would have been a 2026 legacy will not be affordable for the city in the short term, he added.
“That is the one I’m the most sad about,” the mayor said.