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Round 2 for Chu: Councillor asking colleagues to hold Olympics 2026 plebiscite - again

(Photo by Chelsey Harms/660 NEWS)

For the second time, Calgary’s Ward 4 councillor Sean Chu will try and convince his colleagues to put the question of whether the city should bid for the 2026 Olympics to the public in a plebiscite.

“Simple, just yes or no,” he said on the wording of the question.

The urgent business comes a day after councillors answered questions about an incorrect report on the city’s website on Friday that stated the city had received the funding from the provincial and federal governments necessary to form a BidCo., which would further explore bidding for the Games.

While councillor Druh Farrell said Monday council was informed there would be no time for a plebiscite, Mayor Naheed Nenshi pushed back on that suggestion but did say time would be of the essence.

Chu said he wouldn’t wait any longer.

“We’re the only city left to bid (in North America),” he said. “If they want us to do it, they can wait in my opinion.”

Chu’s first attempt for a plebiscite was defeated last July, but much has changed since then, including not only Monday’s gaffe but a string of reports and documents that were obtained by media regarding the cost of the Games.

There have also been changes in how much funding the IOC would provide for Calgary to host and what kinds of infrastructure would be necessary to host.

What has also changed is the cost, as Chu’s first plebiscite would’ve been about $390,000, whereas now one in October (six months is the estimated time necessary to hold a plebiscite) would be just under $2 million.

Chu said he’s not happy with the tab, but it’s worth it.

“Think about it, $4.6 billion (the original estimated cost for the Games), and you spend $2 million,” he said, adding he believes the cost will end up being much more than the original projection.

Chu already has support from councillor Jeromy Farkas, and several other councillors have also voiced their frustration with how the city has progressed towards a possible bid.

There could also be a debate over the wording of the question.

“It can’t just be ‘Do you love the Olympics?’, it actually has to be on this is how much it will cost, this is how much benefit we think will come from it, so it has to be when the conversation is quite a bit more detailed than it is today,” Nenshi said Monday.

But Chu goes back simplicity.

“Why make things so complicated, just say yes and no, that’s it,” he said. “We only have one city left in North America, we are in the driver’s seat, let’s drive this issue.”

If his passed, the plebiscite would likely be held in October, around the same time the IOC opened its bidding process.