Canmore suggests hosting Olympic Village to alleviate housing crunch

CBC News · The Town of Canmore hopes it might be able to alleviate its desperate need for more affordable housing if Calgary makes a successful bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

The mountain town would end up hosting some of the Nordic events if Calgary ends up hosting the Games.

So Canmore’s proposing an Olympic Village be built in the town, with enough room to host 1,200 athletes and officials during the Games. The village would be converted into 240 affordable housing units once the Olympics finish.

Although plans are already underway to build more affordable housing units in Canmore, officials say it’s not happening fast enough.

To date, the Canmore Housing Corporation has created about 200 affordable housing units, with another 49 expected to come online by the end of the year, Canmore chief administrator Lisa de Soto told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday.

Lisa de Soto, chief administration officer for Town of Canmore, says an Olympic Village for 1,200 athletes and officials could be converted into 240 affordable housing units.

“We have a housing action plan that says the community needs a minimum of 1,000 affordable housing units and double that in employee housing,” she said.

“If we proceeded with that athlete’s village, we would potentially double the inventory of housing we currently have.”

De Soto also sits as a board member on the Calgary 2026 Bid Corporation, which is exploring the viability of hosting.

Exactly what the potential athlete’s village would look like has yet to be revealed.

“Of course it’s dependent on the Olympics proceeding,” de Soto said. “It would likely be higher-density units that would be condominium in style.”

The value of current affordable housing units in Canmore increase along with the cost of living, which “keeps the units affordable in perpetuity,” de Soto added.

The town is home to the Canmore Nordic Centre, which would host the biathlon and cross-country ski events should Calgary be awarded the Games.

The tentative plan would see the athletes village built near the Palliser neighbourhood, de Soto said.

Calgary residents are set to vote in a non-binding plebiscite on Nov. 13 about the bid.

The plebiscite will ask, “Are you for or are you against Calgary hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?”

Residents will choose between “I am for Calgary hosting” or “I am against Calgary hosting,” as the two possible answers.

The bid process could be halted before that happens, however.

A potential special meeting of council is set for Aug. 27 that could result in a vote to halt work or continue. Then on Sept. 10, council will have another discussion that could result in a vote to wrap up the project or allow work to continue.

If the city does move ahead with a bid, it will be submitted in January 2019. The host city will be chosen in September 2019.

A poll conducted on behalf of the City of Calgary was released Monday and suggests 53 per cent of residents are in favour of bidding on the Games.

Listen to the CBC Eyeopener Interview with Lisa de Soto, BidCo representative and chief administration officer for Town of Canmore here:


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