Calgary’s potential bid in hosting the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games has been refused by majority of voters in a public referendum, taking down with it a proposed housing strategy that its proponents argued might have offset the market’s erratic performance in recent years.
In a plebiscite earlier this week, 56.4% (171,750 out of 304,774 voters) of Calgary’s citizens who went to the polls said “no”.
“I believed in what the Olympic Games could do for our community, for our province and for our country,” Calgary 2026 bid corporation chair Scott Hutcheson told The Canadian Press. “I’m disappointed in the outcome, but I certainly respect the democratic process.”
While the result is still non-binding, the city council is expected to address the results early next week.
“I think it’s a very strong message,” according to 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.”
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Earlier in September, a draft plan for the bid argued that the sporting event could stimulate grater activity and affordable housing construction, as well as provide a welcome jolt to the provincial economy.
“Calgary has one of the lowest stocks of affordable and social housing in the country relative to the size of the city,” the bid corporation said in a report presented to city council at the time, noting a shortfall of 15,000 affordable housing units.
The document planned the spending of $600 million on about 2,800 units that would temporarily house athletes and officials during the Games. Said units would then be converted to long-term housing afterwards.
Approximately 20% of these units are planned to be at market rates, while the rest will be for affordable housing and other non-market uses.
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