Members of the “Yes” campaign react to the results of a plebiscite on whether the city of Calgary should proceed with a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The results are in, and a majority of Calgarians are saying “no thanks” to a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Calgarians vote ‘no’ to bidding for 2026 Winter Games, in plebiscite

Out of 767,734 eligible voters, 304,774 voted and 171,750 said ”no.”

A Calgary bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games is destined to die after the majority of voters said ‘no’ to it.

In a plebiscite asking citizens if they want to host a Winter Games again after the 1988 Winter Olympics in the city, 56.4 per cent of those who went to the polls cast a dissenting vote Tuesday.

“I believed in what the Olympic Games could do for our community, for our province and for our country,” bid corporation chair Scott Hutcheson said.

“I’m disappointed in the outcome, but I certainly respect the democratic process.”

READ MORE: Olympic decision time for Calgaryians in 2026 plebiscite

Out of 767,734 eligible voters, 304,774 voted and 171,750 said ”no.”

“Today, I have to say, Calgarians won,” said Coun. Sean Chu, who was against a bid.

The plebiscite’s result is non-binding on city council, which has the final say on whether Calgary proceeds with a bid.

The results won’t be declared official until Friday. Council is expected to address the results Monday.

A firm ‘no’ vote paves the way for a divided and nervous council to scuttle a bid.

READ MORE: Calgary considers bid for 2026 Olympic Games

“I think it’s a very strong message,” said Daniel Gauld of the No Calgary Olympics organization. “I think city council is going to have to listen to that.

“The provincial and federal funding will not be forthcoming with this decision today. I think it would be political suicide if they didn’t shut down this bid, so I expect we’ll be seeing that, hopefully.”

Bid supporters and bid corporation Calgary 2026 people gathered at restaurant near the Saddledome to await the results Tuesday.

Several athletes there were devastated when the result was announced.

“I feel really heartbroken and disappointed,” said Helen Upperton, a silver medallist in bobsled. “I have a daughter who would be eight in 2026. I did this for her. My question to Calgary is now what? What is the big dream, what is the big idea?”

A bid was nearly over before the plebiscite.

Ten votes out of 15 on council were required Oct. 31 for a motion to pass on abandoning the plebiscite. Eight voted in favour of that motion which would have generated a cascade of other motions shutting down the bid.

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi voted for continuing with a bid, saying the proposed host draft plan and budget was a good deal for the city.

The Alberta government made its funding of a bid conditional on a plebiscite and provided $2 million to pay for it.

“Today was a success because Calgarians were given the opportunity to have their say on whether to proceed with an Olympic bid,” Alberta Minister of Culture and Recreation Ricardo Miranda said in a statement.

“This decision was never an easy one. Calgarians were provided the information they needed to make an informed choice and we respect their decision.”

Calgary 2026 was led by Mary Moran, who came from Calgary Economic Development, and Hutcheson, a commercial real estate entrepreneur and former national-team skier.

The bid corporation’s mandate was ”to promote a responsible bid.”

Calgary 2026 was hampered by the tardiness of what the cost-sharing agreement would be between the federal and provincial governments and the city.

An agreement that was supposed to be ready for public consumption mid-August wasn’t clear until Oct. 30.

“I have to work with city council every day and have for the last nine years and getting governments aligned is always a big challenge,” Moran said. “I wish we did it sooner, but we did the best we could with what we were dealt.”

“We always knew we had a short runway, but everybody knows we came out with a pretty solid budget on Sept. 11 and we always said a couple of numbers would change and they did. It’s just unfortunate it was complicated.”

In the estimated $5.1 billion price tag to host the games, the public investment ask was $2.875 billion and down from an initial $3 billion.

The province committed $700 million, while the Canadian government said it would provide $1.45 billion.

The city of Calgary was asked for $390 million, and was credited with the $150 million already committed to improving an area that would be a games hub.

Games revenues — tickets, merchandising, television rights, corporate sponsorships — would cover the remaining costs.

While no order of government offered to be a guarantor against debt, Calgary 2026 built $1.1 billion in contingency funds into its budget to mitigate financial risk.

“I think building a dream and articulating that with our social-media type of environment today and a populist movement makes it more challenging,” Hutcheson said.

“With the right dream and with the right city and with the right program, the Olympics should bring lasting memories to a community and we weren’t able to do it this time.”

The International Olympic Committee invited Calgary, Stockholm and a joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo to be candidate cities for 2026.

The IOC will accept bids in early January. The election of the host city is in Lausanne, Switzerland, in June.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Company granted leave to appeal Lemon Creek charges

Executive Flight Centre won a decision in the BC Court of Appeal

Young Grand Forks angler wins top B.C. fishing award

Nine-year-old Noah Dalla Lana was honoured at this year’s BC Wildlife Federation Gala

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

Grand Forks woman lays wreath at grave of local soldier buried in England

Cpl. Alfred Gyde Heaven lied about his age to enlist in the Canadian army in 1916

The quirks and perks of living in England

From Grand Forks to Great Britain: Kalyeena Makortoff on becoming a U.K. permanent resident.

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

UPDATED: B.C. man says he’ll take People’s Party lawsuit as far as he can

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Nevada court orders former Vancouver man to pay back $21.7M to investors

The commission says Michael Lathigee committed fraud over a decade ago

Most Read