Hutcheson promises 'open, honest debate' ahead of Calgary 2026 plebiscite
There will be “open, honest discussion and debate” between leaders of Calgary’s bid to host the winter Olympic games in 2026 and the city’s population ahead of a planned plebiscite on 13 November on whether the bid should proceed, according to Scott Hutcheson, chair of the board of directors of Calgary 2026.
Writing in the Calgary Herald, Hutcheson also revealed that Mary Moran, the bid’s recently appointed chief executive, will continue to receive the same salary, C$290,250 ($222,074) a year, that she was receiving as president and chief executive of Calgary Economic Development, a role from which she has taken leave of absence to join Calgary 2026.
Hutcheson wrote: “Our first priority is to ensure that when Calgarians vote on Nov. 13, they have the facts to make a decision that will have a lasting impact for generations. We need to separate what is true from what is not. With good information, I know our citizens will be decisive and give us direction we can rely on - we need to trust the process.”
Referenda have sounded the death knell of a series of previous Olympic bids, with voters tending to be deterred by the supposedly prohibitive costs of hosting the games.
However, Hutcheson recalled the success of Calgary’s hosting of a previous winter Olympics 30 years ago, writing: “We are fortunate we can recall the lessons of 1988, when the city followed a dream and transformed the country. We worked for one another, stuck together, overcame huge adversity and never gave up. The result: a world-leading legacy that is simply unparalleled. There were doubts then — worries, even fears. Yet great optimism.
“In the end, we took a stance and showed the world a new way to host a successful Olympic Winter Games. Thirty years later, the city is still smiling. Those Games affected us all. We discovered the unique power of teamwork and revealed the kind of character only adversity can expose. And this time is no different. We need to be in this together, and I personally like our odds.”
Hutcheson concluded: “While we will not pursue a Games at all costs, our mandate is to develop and promote the best possible bid for Canada. A winning bid. If we agree to move forward, it will be because pursuing a bid will benefit our city, our province, and all of Canada.
“It will be because this ‘can do’ community feels confident and trusts that we can build spirit through optimism, volunteerism, inclusivity and that our diverse city will prosper from the possibilities.”
A referendum has already ended Sion in Switzerland’s hopes of bidding for the 2026 games, while Graz in Austria withdrew its bid last month because of a lack of support from the government of the state of Styria.
Calgary faces competition from Cortina d’Ampezzo/Milan/Turin (Italy), Sapporo (Japan), Stockholm (Sweden) and Erzurum (Turkey) to host the 2026 winter Olympics.
An IOC session in October will invite candidates for the games to bid formally and a host city will be selected in September, 2019.