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Failed Commonwealth Games bid costs Calgary $500,000

City had budgeted $1 million, and the remaining $500K will stay in the city's fiscal stability reserve, they said.

Calgary spent $500,000 on a failed bid to bring the Commonwealth Games to Alberta, however, they’d initially set aside $1 million to do it.

The Commonwealth Games 2030 bid, which would have seen events in Calgary, Tsuut’ina Nation, Enoch Cree Nation and Edmonton, was shelved in early August after the province said it was going to cost taxpayers too much to host.

Both Calgary and Edmonton had pledged up to $1 million each to help fund the bid exploration committee’s work. The province committed up to $2 million. A report on that work was expected at the end of August.

According to a briefing note coming to Calgary city council on Tuesday, $500,000 was paid to the AB2030 bid group through the city’s fiscal stability reserve (FSR).

“As AB2030 has now ended their bid exploration work, no further financial support will be required,” the city memo read.

It also said that an audited statement will be provided for the overall expenditures to inform future investments and funding agreements related to large scale sporting events. Further, the $500,000 not used will remain in the city’s reserve fund.

Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian said the bid being terminated was always a possibility city council was aware of, even with the commitment of up to $1 million.

“While it is disappointing that we didn’t get to make a decision on an actual bid, we always knew that any type of Commonwealth Games bid was contingent on all partners, including the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta wanting to participate,” she told LWC.

Work is not for nothing

The city’s briefing note said that the process allowed them to collaborate with other orders of government, Indigenous leaders and community partners.

“Administration will retain key candidature files and materials related to Games planning and public and partner engagement,” read the memo.

“These documents will form a repository of information that may be useful for future bid exploration work.”

Coun. Mian said that it also helped them continue to advance work on projects like the multisport fieldhouse.

“I know that a lot of really great work was done in terms of scoping out all of the recreation needs in the Bow Valley area. There was a good amount of partnerships made between the city, the Government of Alberta and our First Nations partners,” she said.

“I think that all of that is stuff that can be repurposed for future events.”

Mian said the city’s priorities are to attract major events to flex the city’s hosting and hospitality muscles. She said it’s good to be able to sit down and examine where groups can come together to make events happens.

“I know these can sound like really large amounts. It’s also figuring out what you’re not going to do – it’s also important,” she said.

“That’s where this particular project landed. That doesn’t mean that’s where other projects will land, and I think that’s where we have to keep the focus.”

Administration had been in the process of analyzing initial estimates on costs associated with the Games, but that work hadn’t yet been finalized.