CALGARY (660 NEWS) – A high-level source confirmed to 660 NEWS Ottawa is willing to contribute up to $1.75 billion towards a potential Olympic bid, however, there are two conditions.
Calgarians have to vote “yes” in favour of hosting the games and the funding would have to be matching, so both the province and/or city would have to spend more.
The source also said that all three levels of government are at the table and officials are seeking more engagement out of the province.
This may turn out to be a big win for the pro-Calgary 2026 side, where the government had traditionally been willing to contribute up to 50 per cent of the operational costs.
A previous estimate had pegged the operational cost at $3 billion.
Friday’s news combined with the provincial government’s previous announcement that it would be willing to contribute $700 million and the city’s share has yet to be announced.
Nenshi surprised at reported funding number, MP says gov’t is ‘committed‘
Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued a statement that said he’s shocked by the reported number from the federal government.
In a release, he said, “we were surprised to see this number reported for a proposed federal contribution to a potential Calgary 2026 Olympics as negotiations are still underway.”
Everything, though, would fall apart if Calgarians reject the idea of playing host for the second time in the Nov. 13 plebiscite.
“I know that the city, the citizens have a decision to make but our government will be a full partner with whatever they decide,” said Calgary Centre Liberal MP Kent Hehr. While he’s not in a position to confirm the funding total, he told 660 NEWS the announcement will give Calgarians what they need to decide how to vote in next month’s Olympic plebiscite.
“Well our government is committed to Calgary we know they have a big decision to make and I know that we are full partners with them in whatever that decision is,” said Hehr. “There are many other partners involved and we want to see [it happen], should the citizens want a world-class games to take part in this great city.”
There is no formal announcement planned as of yet for voters, but in a recent news conference, Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly said that they were aware of the looming vote.
Cash flow turning up the heat?
Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt believes Ottawa’s commitment will likely turn up the heat politically on Notley’s New Democrats.
“The fact that the feds are raising more money may indeed put more pressure on the provincial government to increase their contribution. I would’ve hoped though, that there would’ve been some discussion between the two levels of government on this,” he said.
“Going to $1.75 billion sounds good, but the province had contributed only $700 million said not a penny more. So what this means is the city, which hasn’t put it’s contribution number yet, are they going to be on the hook for a billion dollars?” asked Bratt, adding that price tag is a big pill for Calgarians to swallow.
With all the funding announcements contingent on a yes vote plebiscite, Bratt says the job just got a little harder for supporters of the Olympic bid.
-with files from Rick Donkers