The village would serve as one of at least two centres to accommodate athletes for a possible 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the other being located in Calgary.
According to Chief Administrative Officer Lisa de Soto, the landowner administration is working with is actually Canmore Community Housing Corporation, which is owned by the municipality.
“The Olympic Village is where the lion’s share of our commitment would be; the Town of Canmore is being asked to put up land owned by Canmore Community Housing Corporation,” de Soto said. “And that would have to be decided by council.”
CCHC owns several parcels of land within the urban growth boundary, including a large chunk of land along Palliser Trail. De Soto added Canmore already intends to develop affordable housing on CCHC lands, but with an Olympic bid, the municipality may be able to achieve those goals sooner, with more density and additional amenities as a result of developing it as an Olympic village.
“What I have been doing is working with the engineering team doing the analysis of Olympic village costs for Canmore and working with a landowner on the agreement for use of their lands,” de Soto said. “I have also structured my corporate strategic team as an Olympic steering committee and we are working every other week to look at internal costs and allocations.”
She said the Bid Corporation has indicated to Canmore that it would not be expected to contribute operational funding for the 2026 Games. However, it would have capital costs and specifically, the biggest ticket item would be the Olympic village.
De Soto said future needs of CCHC for its affordable housing program could be met with development of an athlete’s village. Part of administration’s work in this process, she said, would be to understand what capital projects already on the books for the future could be achieved sooner through
an Olympic Games.
De Soto was in front of council at the beginning of July to provide an overview of the financial implications to the municipality so far.
“I am here to request additional scope to the capital budget you approved in December regarding the exploration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games bid,” she said. “The scope addition would allow additional staff resources to be hired to redistribute some of the workload I am experiencing as a result of the bid exploration.”
So far, of the $200,000 approved by council in December for a budget to engage in the bid exploration process, $114,000 has been spent, according to de Soto’s presentation.
The CAO requested council approve changes to how those funds are allocated, with $47,000 to go toward backfilling her position within the organization. De Soto has taken a position as Canmore’s representative on the Bid Corporation.
“I deo believe (the budget) is sufficient to get us through to the end of the year,” de Soto said. “If it proves not to be, then we will be back in front of you.”
Of what has been spent so far, only a small amount has been used for expert advice and the full amount set aside for communications ($25,000). As well, it cost Canmore $20,000 to send three staff members and Mayor John Borrowman to PyeongChang as part of the International Olympic Committee’s observer program.
According to de Soto, Canmore’s Explore 2026 engagement process has officially concluded and any future communication with the community on the process would come from the Bid Corporation itself.
“Our public engagement is complete,” she said. “There will be further public engagement and information sharing that will be led by the Bid Co. Our role through that will be to help coordinate an appropriate rollout for Canmore, but we won’t actually be delivering or producing that information.”
According to de Soto, the multi-party agreement negotiation process has begun at the BidCo level, along with the establishment of a group to assist the different governments with the process. She said Canmore is working with the Province, federal government and City of Calgary so everyone understands their respective roles in the process moving forward.
“That coordinating meeting is something that will endure and will require my attention,” said de Soto, adding the first draft of the multi-party agreement is expected by the end of July. “It all depends on the level of commitment and the funding (expected from Canmore).”
Scott Hutcheson was named chair of the Bid Corporation, while Hayley Wickenheiser was named vice-chair. Other directors on the BidCo include Catriona Le May Doan and Dick Pound.
“The board is made up of some of the most senior professionals and influential people who have a keen understanding of the sport community and our orders of government,” Hutcheson said. “We will quickly establish a strong working relationship and develop a culture of healthy, open and productive dialogue that will lead to informed decision making.”