Calgary has been exploring an Olympic bid now for a number of years. Millions have been spent only to have nothing aside from a skeleton of a plan along with some hopes and dreams to show for it.
As the bid deadline approached. the city of Calgary spawned Bidco out of desperation in hopes of ramming through a bid plan that taxpayers may possibly accept. We have to thank Rachel Notley for putting a plebiscite condition on provincial funding or we can be assured that Nenshi and the usual elites would simply have pushed the bid through with little to no real discussion among Calgarians,
Bidco was a farce from day one. The organization was purposely formed as a private but tax funded entity. The only reason for this was to ensure that they never have to disclose how they are spending funds through freedom of information requests. According to Mary Moran (head of Bidco), upwards of $10-$12 million has been spent in pursuit of the games to date. She can’t even give us a number better than a ballpark. These fiscal skills are reflected in the bid cobbled together last week. We don’t know how those funds were spent or in who’s pockets they went.
Mary Moran used to lead Calgary Economic Development which is essentially a city hall agency. In her years there she has spent millions only to lead Calgary’s once thriving downtown to a shameful 27% vacancy rate. Chasing Amazon with chalk drawings on sidewalks didn’t do the trick but it was a hallmark CED sort of initiative.
While most people in the private sector would be fired for such a lacklustre performance on such an important and expensive file, Moran was instead given leave to head Bidco for a salary of nearly $300,000 per year.
The first Bidco scandal erupted within days when it was revealed that Moran would be getting bonuses for a successful bid on top of her already generous salary. Bidco quickly backtracked and removed the bonus provisions (as far as we know, we cant FOIP them). The damage was done right from the start though. It was clear that Bidco was anything but an impartial organization with the interests of Calgarians in mind. This was an group that was tasked to win the games at all costs and it sure shows today.
Bidco lurched along from scandal, to bungle to leak for months. While millions were being spent, we seemed to be making utterly no progress towards a reasonable Olympic bid. With no deal struck while the plebiscite approached and with members of city council preparing to shut this disaster down, Bidco cobbled together a bid proposal literally on the 11th hour in order to drag this whole mess out.
To call the proposed bid a train wreck would be generous. It was clearly hashed together with little thought or skill and the gaps and holes are numerous in the plan.
Let’s be frank. The Calgary 2026 Olympic bid proposal is built on pure bullshit. Its hard to tell where to begin on this mess.
Lets start with the expectation that an insurance company will provide them with $200 million in cost overrun coverage. This notion is utterly bizarre. The average games have a 156% cost overrun. Tokyo has managed to blow their games cost from a projected $7 billion to $25 billion and it is still growing. As Bidco has proven themselves incapable of organizing a ping pong match much less an Olympic games, they hardly instill confidence.
What company on earth would provide that coverage? Maybe with a $200 million dollar deductible. Unless an insurer can be shown to be providing this coverage, it has to be assumed that this $200 million portion of the current bid is simply bullshit.
Lets have a look at venues. Canmore is proposed as the location for many of the Nordic events but it has not been secured. When asked of what will happen if Canmore falls through, Scott Hutcheson from Bidco simply said we will go somewhere else. That is fine and dandy but it will blow yet another hole in their shoestring budget.
While Bidco is claiming that the ski jumping will be held in Whistler, it has been revealed that Bidco hasn’t even contacted the BC government on this, much less cut a deal. It will take tens of millions to build new jumps if a deal isn’t struck and when it is considered that Bidco is too inept to even contact potential hosts, I am not terribly confident that they will be able to secure an arrangement.
Bidco has not secured a location for the curling events either. That means we can have no idea what the costs may be from renting, to building to renovating. It is a giant question mark and it again blows up their little budget.
Speaking of the budget, part of the creative accounting used in order to make a minimal Olympic bid was to designate some $150 million that was already earmarked for development and improvement in Victoria Park as being Olympic funding. That helps make their numbers jive but doesn’t actually put a single dime into Olympic venues. This again leaves their budget in tatters. It was a band aid at best, outright book cooking at worst.
The Olympic bid budget is acting under the assumption that the NHL would be participating in the games. With the addition of the NHL, ad revenues will grow dramatically along with higher demand for ticket sales. Unfortunately the NHL has not found it worth risking their players in the Olympics and they refused to participate in the last winter games. There is hardly any guarantee that they will participate in the 2026 games. To budget based on the participation of the NHL is utterly deceptive.
Security is another distressingly laughable part of the Bidco “budget”. The initial proposal was already absurdly low at $610 million when it is considered that Vancouver spent nearly $1 billion on security years ago. With games presumably held at venues from Calgary to Canmore to Whistler it is impossible to believe that the security will cost less at all much less 40% so.
It gets better!!
The luminaries at Bidco managed to shave well over $100 million in security costs from that initial $610 million estimate!
Either the games will be poorly secured or the budget will be blown. Likely both.
In desperation Bidco has been coaxing former athletes among others to claim on social media that for every $1 spent by Calgary, Calgarians will be ten back in return!
This 10x multiplier was immediately called out as the utter, fabricated bullshit that it is by economists and other learned folks but it still hasn’t stopped Bidco from trying to spread it. They are truly desperate.
Would you believe somebody coming to your door selling investments on that basis? Bidco thinks you will. Strangely no other cities are rushing out to take advantage of this great deal.
As of this writing, there are 11 days remaining before the plebiscite. While all recent polls show an utter lack of support among Calgarians for this broken bid, this can not be taken for granted.
The appointed elite who stand to get great six figure jobs on the Olympic cocktail circuit are desperate and they are spending millions of tax dollars trying to sell their personal gravy train to Calgarians. Those in opposition to this fiasco don’t have such resources.
The voting security is based on the honor system as apparently the City of Calgary is incapable of managing a voter list (but they think they can manage the games). That means that people can vote multiple times and there is no way to track it.
Many Olympic proponents have proven themselves willing to outright lie in order to get their games. I wouldn’t put voter fraud beyond many of them.
That means that people have to make the time to get out and vote on this! Once by the way. I am reaching out to honest people.
These games are a disaster in the making which will lead to generations in debt for what is in reality a two week party where half of the events are outside of city limits.
Vote NO to 2026. Put this piece of trash in the dumpster where it belongs.
Maybe things will be better for the 2030 bid. The city of Calgary and IOC both need heavy flushes before then. Until then though, this bizarre proposed bid packed with bullshit must be rejected.