It’s time for leaders to step up for Olympic bid

CALGARY HERALD – Updated: October 20, 2018 – I support the Calgary 2026 Olympic bid. I also believe it is time for Calgarians to step up and look at the situation at hand as I am afraid the current political maze and lack of solutions will not win the day for us to get the Games.

The CEO of Calgary 2026 is busy presenting her thoughts to the public, but, in my opinion, we need leadership from everyone on the board of the bid corporation. In the buildup to 1988, Frank King was everywhere. He was a true leader. Frank did not know where the backroom was, nor did he care. Leadership is about getting results. Frank King and his team led us through the maze more than 30 years ago to a very big win for Calgary.

During the bid for 1988, the mayor of the city was not involved. The 1988 leadership team did not need any political interference. They simply focused on winning and look what it got us. The best Winter Olympics ever with money in the bank to fund operations for more than 30 years.

What did Calgary and area get when we hosted the 1988 Olympics? Let’s begin with the Winsport Endowment Fund that remains above $100 million. For facilities — all of the Canada Olympic Park campus now known as WinSport, the Saddledome, Olympic Plaza, the Olympic Oval, Nakiska and the hotels in Kananaskis, the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, the Canmore Nordic Centre and the North West LRT to the University of Calgary.

The following are my questions: Why are they not promoting these answers to the public on a regular basis so that we can all get on board the Olympic train?

Why are we content to wait to find out how the three levels of government are intending to fund Calgary 2026?

Why is there anything secret going on at city hall that we cannot see, related to this or any event? I, for one, believe that in camera meetings should be abolished at city hall.

What about the International Olympic Committee, what are they prepared to put at risk for the 2026 Games?

What about the leaders negotiating with the IOC to hold the Winter Olympics in Calgary every 16 years because Calgary should be one of the four centres in the world where the Winter Olympics are held?

What will Calgarians get for this current effort?

To date, we get a field house and a hockey duplex with 6,000 seats and some low-income housing units in Calgary and Canmore. Compare this to the 1988 list, I understand that we already have many of the facilities and this gives us a leg up in costs, but what about vision like we had in the early 1980s?

Given some long-term vision, what could good planning deliver if we hosted both 2026 and 2042 and beyond?

What about an LRT line to the airport?

What about an east-west connector freeway across our downtown? Perhaps without bicycle lanes.

What about CalgaryNext?

What about a planned solution to low-income housing in multiple locations throughout Alberta?

What do we need to do to make Calgary 2026 the best ever Winter Olympics?

• Include the IOC as a partner in the profits and/or the losses;

• A planned non-political approach to new facilities to replace the aging 1988 Olympic facilities;

• A vision of what Calgary might need 50 years away and how hosting the Winter Olympics every 16 years can assist with such a plan.

I believe we can knock the lights out on this opportunity and make Calgary a better place long term if we get the right people doing the right things — once. I suggest a public weekly progress report could assist in winning the bid.

John Simpson is chairman owner and CEO of the CANA Group of Companies. He competed for Canada in equestrian events at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

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