As Calgary continues lurching towards a formal bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, the game-playing is already well-underway at City Hall.
City Council has finally released details of when the plebiscite will be - November 13th - and that the question itself will be relatively straightforward. However, these were really the only concrete details that came out of Council after a lengthy and heated debate about continuing Calgary's Olympic bid.
The head of the Bid Company has now been chosen - Mary Moran - but the City can't tell us how much she's being paid.
The provincial and federal governments have committed to supporting the Olympics - but the City doesn't have the details about how much each order of government is contributing towards the cost of the games.
And now, there are mysterious "complications" impacting Calgary's bid for the games - but the City can't make public what those complications might be.
And why is that?
Because, once again, most of the discussions about the Calgary 2026 bid have happened in secret, behind closed doors, out of the public eye.
In his article on the most recent developments, columnist Rick Bell paints a surreal picture of Calgary's City Hall and their fanatical obsession of releasing as little information as possible.
In fact, a motion put forward by Councillors Chu and Farkas to make the Calgary Olympic Bid Committee - a taxpayer-funded entity - subject to the same Freedom of Information requirements as other government bodies were scoffed at by Mayor Nenshi and voted down by a majority of Council.
On commenting on Calgary proceeding with an Olympics bid, Councillor Farkas now calls it "sheer insanity to proceed."
And Councillor Chu, when asked for more details about the new concerns for Calgary's bid, responded with "I can't talk about that," because he'd be punished for divulging information provided in secret to Councillors.
Meanwhile, support for a 2026 Calgary Olympics bid is dropping according to a recent poll. More and more Calgarians are concerned about the potentially catastrophic costs these Olympics could burden Calgary taxpayers with, as has been the case in many other Olympic cities.
Those support the Olympics bid have also started ramping up their own PR efforts, trying to distract voters from the economic and fiscal issues involved in hosting the games. The City has said that no taxpayer dollars are going to the YES campaign, although with no ability to compel the release of information under the law, whether or not that is actually true cannot be verified.
What is clear though is that the YES campaign is already heavily financed and intending to run a big-budget campaign. They've even engaged expensive political strategists and government insiders to help run their campaign.
However, the City Council may choose to scrap the bid altogether at its meeting on September 10th.
If you believe that the Olympics are a risky business that Calgary just can't afford right now, we would urge you to share your opinion with your local City Councillor and let them know that you're tired of the truly Olympic level of game-playing going on at City Hall.
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