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Alberta Commonwealth Games bid feasibility study is now underway

Feasibility work is now underway on a joint Calgary, Edmonton, Tsuut’ina Nation bid to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games.

The veil was lifted on a potential Games bid Wednesday at the Big Four Building, after LiveWire Calgary was first to report it back on Feb. 14. This bid was announced as the preferred candidate by Claire Carver-Dias, president, Commonwealth Sport Canada.

The City of Hamilton dropped out of the running last month.

The City of Calgary, City of Edmonton and the province are chipping in a combined $4 million to begin the official feasibility study. The exploration process over the past 5 years was largely funded by private donations.   

Bringing all levels of government and the First Nations together was important, said Dr. Roger Jackson, President and CEO of the Alberta 2030 Commonwealth Games Corp (Alberta 2030).

“We have learned in Canada that hosting a major multi-sport games offers a very rare opportunity, perhaps an opportunity once a decade or once every two decades to involve all orders of government, including Indigenous partners and help to achieve very significant economic, social, cultural, health and wellness and many other government priorities that are difficult to achieve by any one government alone,” he said.

Now begins the review process, which includes a public engagement portion. Public engagement was one area many look back on as a failure of Calgary’s 2026 Winter Olympic bid back in 2018.

Jackson said that this bid process has had a longer gestation period, and is more fully researched than the Olympic work, or prior Commonwealth Games bids.

“We’ve certainly taken a different approach,” he said.  

“We have started with community engagement over almost a four-year period that began in 2019.”

He said it was initially a Calgary-only bid that was conceived, but they quickly shifted that to an Alberta-wide approach.

Bringing the Commonwealth Games back to Canada for the centenary

The Games would be held over 11 days in August 2030, with competitions in Calgary, Edmonton, Tsuut’ina, the Bow Valley and other Alberta communities.

More than 4,500 athletes would be competing in 20 different sports disciplines.

Canada last hosted the Games in Victoria back in 1994, and Edmonton hosted in 1978.  The first Games were hosted in Hamilton in 1930 – making the 100-year event a return to its Canadian beginning.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek reiterated the importance of bringing together communities across Alberta. She said there are a host of benefits to the City through co-hosting the Commonwealth Games.

“Calgary supports conducting a feasibility assessment to determine whether a joint Alberta bid to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games as possible,” she said.

“Whenever we can pursue strategic partnerships and cost-sharing options to generate investment and generate a sense of civic pride, it’s important to connect with Indigenous leaders, governments and community partners to explore those opportunities.”

Tsuut’ina Chief Roy Whitney said they have been working with the Games working group for many months. Dr. Jackson said the First Nation was involved right from the start.

“I was pleased when Dr. Jackson and his team approached us about being involved in the opportunity to bid for these Games,” Chief Whitney said.

“Through our discussions, it was very clear that this group was genuine and making First Nations a part of these Games, not just for the beads and feathers, but to be true partners, to be involved in creating a historic event and providing change for Indigenous people.”

Athletes excited about the opportunity to bring international sports back to Canada

Multiple international wrestling medalist Erica Wiebe said her 2014 gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland set the stage for the rest of her career.

She later won gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and then again at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“The success that I had at the 2014 Commonwealth Games really gave me the exposure and the belief that I could have what it takes to succeed and win the biggest match on the world’s biggest stage,” she said.

Giving that experience to other young athletes on their home turf was an exciting prospect. It’s exposing a generation of youth to the power of sports, she said.

“Every sporting dream started in the pool, on the field, in the gym, or at a recreation center in a small community,” Wiebe said.

There is no dollar value set for the Games bid at this time. The review process will narrow that down. Dr. Jackson said the upcoming process will bring groups together, along with international sports organizations to examine the facilities available and where they may need upgrades or completely new facilities.

A final decision will be made in August. The Commonwealth Games will select a successful bid in November 2023.

Jackson said a plebiscite has not been considered to gauge public opinion on hosting this event.