CANMORE – Rocky Mountain Outlook, by Tanya Foubert – The Olympic Bid Corporation is hard at work on its submission to the International Olympic Committee, which includes securing 30,000 hotel rooms for the possible mega-sporting event in 2026.

The content of the bid book is currently being compiled by the Bid Corporation for the 2026 Calgary Olympic Paralympic Games. A draft bid book is expected to begin to be written mid-September with final submission to the IOC in January 2019.

According to a presentation to the City of Calgary mid-June, one of the operational areas being planned is securing accommodation for the Games, which the IOC has indicated requires 21,330 hotel rooms in the city and 8,355 in the mountains.

The hotel rooms would be used to support Games operations with 24,000 hotel rooms needed by the IOC and 6,400 for workforce and security needs.

BidCo is working with hotel associations to draft agreements for all hotels, as all types of hotels are needed to assemble sufficient room inventory, according to the presentation.

Canmore Hotel and Lodging Association board chair Andrew Shepherd said hotels are able to choose if they want to be part of the Olympic bid or not, but the hope is that they work together to help secure the event.

“We (the CHLA) think we should bid,” Shepherd said. “The hotel association strongly supports bidding on the Olympics, as it would bring quite a great economic benefit for Canmore and advertise us on the world stage.”

He said most of the community’s hotels – 24 of the properties so far – are participating in the process to secure a 90 per cent booking of all rooms in the community in 2026. That process involves BidCo establishing a unified rate for rooms, reaching agreements with each hotel and having signed agreements in place.

Shepherd said local hotels could accommodate what is being requested of them as part of the bid, even though there are only slightly more than 3,200 rooms in the community, because of the fact it is in the slower part of the year for the industry.

“If the Olympics were coming in July it would be just about impossible, so this would be in the down period and it is an economic driver,” he said. “The spinoff of the Olympics possibly coming into town in the true off-season is brilliant for the hotels … when the hotels are full, our town is full.”

He said Canmore’s hotel association had a presentation at the beginning of June to discuss the process and answer questions local business owners may have.

The possibility of Olympic and Paralympic events occurring in Canmore has implications for hotels beyond just the six-week timeframe for the two events, he added. Shepherd said hotels and local businesses can expect to see increased occupancy rates for months before and after.

“We already get a lot of world cup or Olympic teams training with us, obviously because of our snow, but also because of the altitude,” he said.

When it comes to making up the deficiency in hotel rooms for either Calgary or Canmore, BidCo intends to address that shortage through affordable or student housing initiatives.

Banff hotels may also be tapped to help accommodate Olympic and Paralympic accommodation needs.

Banff Lake Louise Hospitality Association executive director Darren Reeder said his organization’s members have had a high-level presentation from Calgary officials around the process earlier this year.

Reeder said Banff hotels have not progressed to the same stage as Canmore’s when it comes to setting room rates or booking hotels for 2026.

“We are still waiting to hear back from the initial representatives we met with to set a date to meet with our membership about the whole of their needs,” he said. “We have not had discussions with the BidCo to know what they would need specifically inside Banff National Park.”

The BLLHA has 5,000 to 5,500 hotel rooms, which does include inventory in seasonal and backcountry accommodations.