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Consultation important on Alberta Commonwealth Games bid, says Minister

Alberta’s Minister of Tourism and Sport said the main focus of consulting on international sporting events is to make sure it’s a good deal for Albertans.

Minister Joseph Schow was in Calgary on Monday to announce sporting affordability programs at the MNP Community and Sport Centre, and was asked about his mandate letter that included greater scrutiny of international games bids and potential for referenda on the topic.

Calgary, Edmonton and the Tsuut’ina Nation are considering a joint bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games. They’re expected to come back with the result of their groundwork in August in preparation for a bid submission later this year. This would essentially be the only bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games as a prior bid from Hamilton withdrew.

Also, Victoria, Australia has pulled its plans for a 2026 Commonwealth Games, with that group saying the cost of the Games could balloon to $7 billion for that city. Initially, they estimated it would cost $2.6 billion.

The Government of Alberta, the City of Calgary and Edmonton each pitched in cash to put together a $4 million feasibility study for the 2030 Commonwealth Games.

Schow told reporters they are currently working with the BidCo to go through their bid process. He was disappointed to hear about Victoria’s decision but said there are no implications for the Alberta bid.

As far as a referendum on the Alberta bid, Schow said that the goal is proper consultation with citizens.

“We want to make sure it’s right for the province and it’s right for the taxpayers,” he said.

“I work for Albertans and my job is to do what’s best for them and so we’re going to get all the relevant information and make a decision based on that.”

Consultation ongoing: BidCo

In a statement provided to LWC, the Alberta 2030 group said that a project the size of the Commonwealth Games would require extensive consultations with a variety of different groups.

“Alberta 2030 has held over 250 external meetings with citizen and community organizations, rural communities, municipal councilors from Edmonton and Calgary, MLAs of all parties, and with Indigenous Nations across the province,” the statement read.  

“These conversations are helping us to define the key priority areas for community development and the legacies they will achieve from hosting the Games.”

The group also said that they’d recently undertaken a province-wide survey showing that 70 per cent of Albertans were in favour of hosting. Twenty per cent were undecided and 10 per cent were against it.

They said further opportunities to share feedback will roll out over the summer.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said if it’s an Alberta-wide event bid and provincial cash is involved, then she said they should support what the province is putting forward.

She said that Calgary went through the plebiscite back in 2018 for the Olympics. Council at that time heeded the will of citizens.

“These games do cost a lot of money and it’s really important for the citizens in Alberta to understand what that means, what the return on investment would mean for the province,” she said.

  • With files from Gustavo Fornez