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Calgarians vote no to continuing the 2026 Olympic bidding process

Last Updated Nov 14, 2018 at 11:31 am MDT

Photo by Kayla Bruch, 660 News.

56.4% voted AGAINST moving forward on the bid process, while 43.6% voted in support of it.

The 'No' side celebrated as the results came in around 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night.

The 'Yes' side was disappointed but thanked its volunteers for helping out.

CALGARY (660 NEWS and CITYNEWS) – Thousands of votes have been tallied, and 56 per cent of Calgarians don’t want to go ahead with exploring a potential bid to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Unofficial #yycvote results for Vote 2018:

304,774 ballots were cast in the non-binding plebiscite on Tuesday.

Now that Calgarians voted no, the bid isn’t technically dead in the water, despite the federal and provincial governments saying their financial support was contingent on a yes vote.

A loud cheer could be heard at 1918 Tap and Table when the announcement was made to the crowd.

However, Calgary could still move forward with a bid and lose it to one of the other bidders. As it stands, Stockholm, Sweden and a joint bid from Milan and Cortina, Italy are still in the running.

READ MORE: What if Calgary says ‘No’ to the 2026 Olympics?

The plebiscite’s result is non-binding on city council, which has the final say on whether Calgary will proceed with a bid.

The results won’t be declared official until Friday. Council is expected to address the results Monday.

By comparison, 387,306 voted in the 2017 civic election for a 58.1 per cent turnout.

At the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, the Returning Officer will provide council with a report on the official results, and council will determine the next steps. Should council decide to proceed, this bid will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee in January 2019.

RELATED: Olympic Vote: Everything you need to know

Meanwhile, a feeling of defeat was evident at the ‘Yes’ campaign.

After the results were official, BidCo chairman Scott Hutcheson said the plan that was presented was the best option available.

“I truly believe this was the best opportunity to unite our community around a new vision of hope, confidence and realize an extended legacy, inspired by the world’s best winter athletes.”

WATCH: Live coverage of the results as they came in

Calgary was the host city of the 1988 Winter Olympics. The venues from those games formed the foundation of a 2026 bid, for which Calgarians were asked to state their appetite.

While a firm ‘no’ vote Tuesday was definitive in terms of what action a nervous council will take, a ‘yes’ vote was still subject to the decision of a group of people divided on 2026.

“This was really an opportunity for Calgarians to ask ‘what kind of city do we want to live in?’ It’s not a city that we want with the IOC,” said Daniel Gauld, with the No Calgary Olympics campaign. “I think this is a rejection of the IOC and it’s an opportunity for Calgarians to start asking ‘what else?’ What else can we do? What are some real solutions to the challenges we’re facing?”’

Ten votes out of 15 on council were required Oct. 31 for a motion to pass on abandoning the plebiscite. Eight voted in favour of that motion which would have generated a cascade of other motions shutting down the bid.

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi voted for continuing with a bid, saying the proposed host draft plan and budget is a good deal for the city.

The Alberta government made its funding of a bid conditional on a plebiscite and provided $2 million to pay for it.

Calgary 2026 was hampered by the tardiness of what the cost-sharing agreement would be between the federal and provincial governments and the city.

An agreement that was supposed to be ready for public consumption mid-August wasn’t clear until Oct. 30.

In the estimated $5.1 billion price tag to host the games, the public investment ask was $2.875 billion and down from an initial $3 billion.

The province committed $700 million, while the Canadian government said it would provide $1.45 billion.

The city of Calgary was asked for $390 million, and was credited with the $150 million already committed to improving an area that would be a games hub.

Games revenues – tickets, merchandising, television rights, corporate sponsorships – would cover the remaining costs.

While no order of government offered to be a guarantor against debut, Calgary 2026 built $1.1 billion in contingency funds into its budget to mitigate financial risk.

The International Olympic Committee invited Calgary, Stockholm and a joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo to candidate cities for 2026.