Calgary council needs to 'hit pause and regroup' on Olympic bid, says councillor

Calgary council needs to 'hit pause and regroup' on Olympic bid, says councillor

Calgary Coun. Jyoti Gondek took to Facebook on Sunday to share her concerns with the city's potential Olympic bid project. 

"With the Olympic bid project, we as a council need to hit pause and regroup. We need to have some serious conversations about what we're asking administration to do, and we need to ensure we all have a common understanding of the process," the Ward 3 councillor wrote.

Gondek had posted a series of tweets the previous day, after the city announced it had mistakenly posted an incorrect report on its website. 

The report had stated the city had confirmed funding from both the provincial and federal governments to form a corporation to bid on the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. But, the city corrected that on Saturday, pulling the documents from the website and saying no formal funding confirmation has been received.

Gondek said that her comments on Twitter had set off a "flurry of questions and comments," so she took to Facebook to expand on her concerns with the project.

"My thoughts on the Olympic bid revolve around the process we are following to determine whether or not we should pursue this incredibly complex project. Administration is trying to execute on a fuzzy direction that they have been given by council, and the pace at which this project needs to move is creating stress and resulting in mistakes," she wrote, adding that she thinks the mistake should be a "wake-up call."

The corrected report is set to be presented at a strategic meeting of council on Wednesday, along with an update on the city's strategic plan for 2019-2022, a report on climate resiliency, and a response to an inquiry from four city councillors on the cost, timing and process of conducting a city-wide vote on whether to proceed with an Olympic bid.

"The Olympic bid direction needs to be re-assessed by Council, and adding it as an item to an already packed strategic session agenda is likely not going to allow us time to deal with anything effectively," Gondek added.

Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell also shared her concerns about the mistake on Twitter, and noted that she believed the release of the report was the third time information on the city's Olympic bid plans was inadvertently released. 

"If it was inadvertent, this continued bungling makes me wonder how we're managing the big items. If it was obfuscation, then how can we trust the numbers?" she wrote.

The report asked the city to approve another $2.5 million for the formation of a bid corporation, bringing Calgary's total cost of a bid to $9.5 million if council approves the funds, and requests an additional $10 million from Alberta's government and $10.5 from Ottawa.

The funds would cover all expenses until September 2019, when the International Olympic Committee is expected to award the games.