In June of 2016 The City of Calgary announced it would be exploring a bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (OPWG). It was clear from the outset that the bid exploration conducted by The City was a Calgary-centric process designed only to determine if it was feasible for Calgary to bid. Given the current trajectory of The City of Calgary bid review process, and the recently announced International Olympic Committee (IOC) timelines for the bid city Dialogue and Candidature Stages, administration believes it is time for the Town of Canmore to conduct its own work to inform a Canmore decision on whether to bid on the 2026 OPWG.
Council then approved a budget to conduct public engagement. Canmore has an opportunity to be a partner, so it’s important to better understand both the costs and the possible benefits for our community. We need to identify how the Games could be a catalyst for advancing the community’s priorities through the development of a set of principles for the Town’s decision makers.
The Olympics is a part of Canmore’s history as we were a hosting partner in 1988 and today, we actively use these facilities as part of our every day lifestyles. At that time, the Paralympic Games were still organized in a location different than the Olympic Games and in 1988, that location was Austria. Despite Canmore having hosted national and World Cup level “para” events, Canmore has never hosted the Paralympics.
Here are some of the benefits from the Olympic Games being held in previous host communities (to name a few):
- New athletic venues (or updates to existing venues, such as the Government of Alberta’s Canmore Nordic Centre)
- Updated transportation systems (such as Whistler’s hydrogen bus fleet)
- Additional jobs
- Increased income
- A broadened tax base
- Enhancement of libraries and parks
- Positive international media images of the Host City
There are also perceived costs for communities, such as (to name a few):
- Increased fiscal expenditures
- Traffic congestion
- Consumption of local natural resources
- Loss of, or competition for, social funds
Canmore and Calgary’s recent history
The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) initiated the process to investigate a potential 2026 OPWG bid in June 2016. In May 2017 CBEC released the results of an initial survey designed to gauge public opinion surrounding the idea.
Approximately 2,000 residents from Calgary, Canmore, Banff and Cochrane participated in the survey, which showed broad base support for a bid across all communities.
In Canmore, 303 residents were surveyed with the following summarized results:
- 89% aware Calgary considering an Olympic bid
- 66% support Calgary region bidding for the Olympics
- 59% believe there will be a net positive impact on infrastructure
- 61% believe there will be a net positive impact on the economy
- 9% believe there will be a net positive impact on the environment
- 66% agree that cost of bidding is a worthwhile investment
Whistler and Vancouver
Whistler played a key role in the hosting of the Vancouver 2010 OPWG’s; participating as a larger partner than Canmore did in 1988. Despite some of the differences with Canmore, reflecting back to these events offers up relevant perspective as we work to develop what principles will guide Canmore as we consider participating in a potential 2026 bid.
2010 Winter Olympics Impact Program
The University of British Columbia (UBC) led Olympic Games Impact (OGI) Program produced a series of reports across a 12 year period, using a standardized method of monitoring, measuring and reporting on the impact of hosting the Olympic Games. These include the following reports:
There are three impact areas used to group the findings that resulted from the 2010 OPWG including: socio-cultural, economic and environmental. Below is an excerpt from the UBC News unveiling their findings:
- Inclusion – Aboriginal groups and minorities participated in the bidding, planning and staging of the Games. Data from opinion polls conducted before and after the Paralympic Games showed that public awareness of people with disabilities increased as a result of the Games.
- Sport – Municipal, provincial and federal governments introduced policies and projects to leverage the Games, including a program for excellence in sport, Own the Podium, that likely increased the number of medals won by Canadian athletes.
- Arts and culture – Arts and culture were a significant aspect of the hosting of the 2010 Games (page vi)
- Housing – There were no new data related to homelessness and affordable housing subsequent to the Pre-Games Report. The report noted that possible media attention and local advocacy efforts may have catalyzed government efforts to address these issues. The following OGI report is expected to provide further insight on these issues. (page vi).
- Update from OGI Study Post-Games Report (page 13): “The Games did not appear to have influenced the attractiveness of the Host with respect to either Consumer Price Index or the real estate market (cost of homes) (no unusual change in either).”
- Business and jobs – New businesses and new jobs were created that related directly to the Olympics such as venue operation, as well as indirectly such as hotel and restaurant jobs.
- Real estate – Increases in the cost of hotel stays and in real estate prices in the year 2010 were both potentially due to the Games.
- Tourism – Increases in YVR airport traffic (passenger and freight) and in visitor spending around the time of the Games were both potentially due to the 2010 Winter Games.
- Tax revenue – The Games-time report conservatively estimates that the public sector benefited by at least $50 million (CAD) in total tax revenue from Olympic activities.
- Greenhouse gas emissions – Data from VANOC showed that Olympic-related greenhouse gas emissions increased every year following 2005, with an eight-fold increase during Games-time compared to the organizing period, mainly due to transportation to and around Vancouver.
- Mode of travel – During the Games, travel into and out of the downtown core (where many Games-related events were held) increased. During this period, the share of low-impact modes of travel into and out of the downtown core became the dominant mode of travel over personal vehicle use.
- Energy consumption – Olympic-related energy consumption for facility operation and transportation during the Games was almost an equal share between fossil fuels and renewable sources. Most of the energy (80 per cent) was used for venues and facilities.
Vancouver 2010 Sustainability Report
The Vancouver 2010 Sustainability Report is a series of five annual reports on the social, economic and environmental impacts and opportunities of the Games that is prepared by the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC). The report covers six areas of objectives, which include:
• To behave ethically, set measurable performance targets and communicate openly about our progress and challenges
• To consult with external groups affected by our activities
2. Environmental stewardship and impact reduction
• To conserve natural environments and manage, mitigate and offset negative impacts
3. Social Inclusion and Responsibility
• To convene accessible Games that have a positive impact on socially and economically disadvantaged groups that otherwise would not benefit
• To care for our workforce, protect human rights and ensure health and safety
4. Aboriginal participation and Collaboration
• To partner with the Four Host First Nations to achieve an unprecedented level of Aboriginal participation in
5. Economic benefits
• To demonstrate that sustainable innovation and practice makes good business sense
6. Sport for sustainable living
• To use sport, and growing athlete and public interest in living more sustainably, to inspire action on local and global sustainability challenges
To view the full report pdf click here (13.27 MB) .