Canmore disappointed Calgary votes No on Olympic plebiscite

ZACH LAING  Updated: November 14, 2018 – Calgary voters’ decision to shoot down a bid to host the 2026 Olympic Games was a disappointing conclusion for Canmore Mayor John Borrowman.

Borrowman was one of six Canmore council members to back the town’s participation in the Olympic bid, given the project’s inclusion of an athletes’ village that would ultimately become affordable housing post-Games.“I’m very disappointed both for the town Canmore and the region,” said a dejected Borrowman.

“I truly believe that the opportunity and future benefits would’ve been well worth the investment and that this would’ve been manageable.”

As part of the Games, Canmore was to host biathlon and cross-country skiing events at the Canmore Nordic Centre — a facility originally built for the 1988 Olympics that was in line for a variety of upgrades had a bid been successful.

A 242-unit, $116-million athletes’ village would have been turned into affordable housing, should the bid have been successful.

“It makes our job of building housing that the community needs that much more difficult,” said Borrowman.

“The cost of development in Canmore is significant. Through the opportunity presented by the 2026 Games and the involvement of the HostCo and senior levels of government, that housing project was really viable.”

Norbert Meier, a spokesperson for Yes 2026 Canmore, had high hopes of the town’s participation in the Olympic Games.

“Of course we’re disappointed,” he said.

“All the things we need in this community that were going to be possible as a result of the hosting plan (means) we’ll have to figure out a different way to get those essential things for the town.”

Meier said while there were people in Canmore on both sides of the Yes or No fence in the leadup to Calgary’s plebiscite, there was broad support for the Games in the mountain town of 14,000.

“The vibe here in town (had) been quite good — certainly there are still some people in the town who would rather we didn’t participate with Calgary in hosting these Games but for the most part, I think there’s been broad support in the community,” he said.


Like Borrowman, Meier saw a lot of benefit in hosting the Games as it brought numerous infrastructure gains for the town.

“We continue to need perpetually affordable housing and I’m guessing the town will have to keep chipping away at it in much, much smaller increments than what had been hoped for through the Olympics,” he said.

“(There were) benefits of infrastructure gains through the Olympics that this town and this valley needs regardless — we’ve said that from the beginning. The future needs us to develop these things because it’s coming no matter what.”

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