AN OLYMPIC SIZED BILL!
Yesterday, we got the first look at what the 2026 Winter Olympics will cost Calgarians - and the news isn't good.
The Calgary 2026 Bid Committee released its first costing and hosting plan for the Winter Olympics, and the document raised more questions than it did answers.
First of all, they peg the cost of the games at $5.2 Billion - that cost is $1 Billion higher than what the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee said the costs would be just one year ago.
A $1 Billion increase in just one year? What will the actual cost be if and when Calgary finally hosts the Olympics in 2026?
But, the cost was only the first red flag the proposed hosting plan raised.
The proposed plan calls for a massive increase in affordable housing to be built for the Olympic games. In fact, the same commitment was made when Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010.
There's just one problem.
When the Vancouver games ran short of cash, the affordable housing was the first thing to go.
And why is the focus of the Olympic bid government-built affordable housing? Government housing is always more expensive than housing built by the private sector and is subject to the same political shenanigans that are the hallmark of every government program.
Secondly, Calgary 2026 estimates the economic benefits to Calgary at a whopping $7.4 Billion - a completely ridiculous number with little to no basis in either fact or history.
Economist Trevor Tombe took aim at this staggering figure on Twitter, saying: "On #Calgary2026 econ impacts: the claimed $7.4B is too big."
In fact, post-Olympics analyses in Greece, Sydney, and London all revealed that the promised economic gains never materialized, and in some cases, left the host cities significantly worse off than if they had never hosted the games at all.
The Bid Company proposed that to save costs, as many former venues as possible should be re-used in these games - the idea that simply renovating and updating facilities is much cheaper than building new ones.
In theory, that sounds like a good idea. In reality, it hasn't made much difference in terms of the cost.
Vancouver spent approximately $4.7 Billion on operations and venue costs for the 2010 Olympic games, mostly building new venues from scratch. The plan put forward today has Calgary spending $4.8 Billion on operations and venue costs, and that's with only building two new venues. How are re-using venues for saving money when the cost is coming in higher than a city who did a massive build of new venues for their Olympic games?
In terms of security, Vancouver spent nearly $1 Billion on security costs in 2010, and the world has only become a more dangerous place since then. However, despite the fact that Canada has faced increased threats of terrorism, including terrorist attacks on our own soil, Calgary 2026 is only budgeting $610 Million for security for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic games, spread across the four or five separate venues where the games are planned to take place.
And then there are the folks at the International Olympic Committee. Even under the most optimistic scenario, the cost to Calgary, Alberta, and Canadian taxpayers is a whopping $3 Billion - and that's assuming everything comes in on the budget, there are no unforeseen costs, and all revenue projections are met...
...And really, what's the likelihood of that happening?
But back to the International Olympic Committee and their demands for cities hosting one of their multi-billion dollar boondoggles.
The demands made by the IOC on host cities are truly outrageous and have forced some cities to think twice about taking on Olympic games.
Here are just some of the demands the IOC has made of host cities in the past, and could well make of Calgary if we are awarded the 2026 Winter Olympics:
1. IOC Members will ONLY stay in 4 or 5-star hotels.
2. IOC Members must be served a full, hot, international breakfast every day.
3. IOC Members will have access to private cars at any time during the games.
4. IOC Members must have access to well-stocked minibars in their rooms, receive free alcohol at Olympic receptions, and have complimentary beer, wine, and hot hors d'oevres at their private Olympic lounge.
5. Separate, private, VIP traffic lanes must be established for the exclusive use of IOC members traveling around the host city.
6. And, our personal favourite - IOC members will be greeted with a smile upon arrival at their hotel.
Well, like at McDonalds, smiles are free in Calgary, but everything else on this list will cost millions of dollars just to meet the aristocratic and elitist demands of IOC members.
Basically, IOC Members see the Olympics as a chance to go on a free, luxury holiday in which they stay at the finest hotels, enjoy complimentary food and alcohol, and best seats at every Olympics event - paid for by our tax dollars.
And just who are these IOC Members? Well, perhaps as you've guessed from the above requirements, most of them are not everyday folks who are struggling to make ends meet.
A partial list of the International Olympic Committee's membership includes Sovereign Prince Albert II of Monaco, Princess Nora of Lichtenstein, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Tunku Imran of Malaysia, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, and Prince Feisal Al Hussein of Jordan.
Clearly, these people who have a thorough understanding of the burden of hosting an Olympics place on hard-working taxpayers.
Late yesterday night, Calgary's City Council decided to "damn the torpedos" and proceed with putting this Olympic bid plan to voters in a plebiscite, to take place in November.
Despite the costs, the overstated economic benefits, and the lavish perks given to IOC members, City Council decided to keep spending money pursuing a bid.
We need to get the word out that these Olympics will hit Calgary taxpayers hard in their wallets. We need to make sure every voter in our city knows just what they'll be on the hook for if these Olympics go ahead.
Please share this e-mail with your family, friends, and neighbours so they don't have the wool pulled over their eyes by the special interests who stand to benefit most from throwing our city deep into debt with these Olympics.
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