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Transparency a key condition in province’s $700M commitment to Calgary Olympics

The province announced Friday it will provide $700 million towards hosting the 2026 winter Olympics if Calgary is successful in a bid.

The city had been hoping the province could contribute at least $1 billion.

In a letter to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and Federal Minister of Sport Kristy Duncan, Finance Minister Joe Ceci said the $700 million is a “maximum” and comes with three conditions:

  • a majority of Calgarians vote yes in the November plebiscite;
  • the IOC awards the games to Calgary;
  • the Calgary 2026 bid corporation (or any successor) must be subject to increased transparency requirements.

Further down in the letter, Ceci elaborates on the importance of transparency.

“As the games will cost $3 billion of public funds, we will make a funding requirement that Calgary 2026 become subject to provincial transparency and freedom of information laws, or other equivalent rules and regulations.”

Because it is an arm’s length committee, Calgary’s Bid Corporation is currently not subject to freedom of information (FOIP) laws.

Coun. Sean Chu, a staunch critic of hosting the games, said he was pleased to hear about the transparency condition.

“I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but thanks to the NDP provincial government,” he said. “I’ll give credit where credit is due.”

Chu said he had been shot down by the previous council and the current council on the matter of holding a plebiscite. The upcoming plebiscite was only announced once the province told the city there would be no funding without support from a majority  of Calgarians.

“Now you watch,” said Chu. “Everyone is going to say, “Oh yeah, FOIP is a good thing. We should have FOIP.’”

The province also made clear in its letter to Calgary and the federal government that it would not be covering any potential cost overruns.