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Coun. Jyoti Gondek says she won’t support Calgary 2026 Winter Olympics Games bid

Calgary’s Olympic hopes took a hit Friday after Coun. Jyoti Gondek said she doesn’t support the upcoming 2026 Winter Games bid.

With the confluence of Stampede Park and the East Village as her backdrop, Gondek said after poring over information, taking extensive notes and participating in the debate, she wasn’t convinced the deal is a good one.

“I’ve had a front row seat for the incredibly thoughtful discussions we’ve had in council and I’ve been front row for the less comfortable moments of disagreement among stakeholders,” said Gondek.

“I stand here firm in this conviction that winning this bid is not in the best interest of Calgarians… I’m not distracted by the hype and the hoopla.”

She said she doesn’t believe it’s the best deal for the city and that the process of putting the deal together doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in Calgarians.

More than 54,000 people cast ballots in the advanced polling Nov. 6-7, and tens of thousands more are expected to vote Nov. 13. Gondek said she felt the need to put her position out there now after several other councillors had publicly stated where they stand on the bid.

Gondek said that right now the city has several big ticket items on its plate: the arena, events centre, the Green Line, and a project she feels could be a boon for Calgary’s inner city and a dwindling tax base – the connection of Stampede Park and East Village.

She advocated for a more focused strategy that city council followed through with, noting the city isn’t great at finishing things they start.

“I’m not standing before you as a naysayer, as a person unwilling to dream big or a person content with the status quo,” she said.

“There’s only one label that applies and I wear it with a great deal of pride, and that is – citybuilder.”

Gondek’s doubt came after careful analysis of the Olympic project. The removal of the bus barns and the cutting of affordable housing was a tipping point in her decision.

Coun. Jeff Davison attended the Gondek press conference and afterwards said he agrees with many points his colleague made, but that he still felt it should be in the hands of Calgarians.

“Calgarians need to tell us if this is a priority for Calgary or not,” Davison said.