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Calgary Olympic Bid Corp. sees long term housing benefits to hosting 2026 Games

The Canadian Press
Calgary Olympic Bid Corp. sees long term housing benefits to hosting 2026 Games

CALGARY — A draft plan for a potential Calgary 2026 Olympic bid says the event could create more affordable housing in a region that badly needs it and provide a welcome jolt to the provincial economy.

“Calgary has one of the lowest stocks of affordable and social housing in the country relative to the size of the city,” the Calgary 2026 bid corporation said in a report presented to city council on Tuesday, noting a shortfall of 15,000 affordable housing units.

The plan envisions spending $600 million on about 2,800 units that would temporarily house athletes and officials during the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games and then be turned over to long-term housing. About 20 per cent would be at market rates, with the rest set aside for affordable housing and other non-market uses.

There is a plan for three to four new affordable housing projects that would yield at least 600 units, as well as a new 200-unit senior’s complex. It also said there could be new housing for urban Indigenous people and students.

An athletes’ village planned near the Stampede Grounds would accommodate 3,100 people during the Games. After, that would be converted into 70 affordable, 140 attainable or near-market and 500 market units.

The hosting plan also sees Canmore — a Rocky Mountain town about an hour west of Calgary that would host some events — building a 1,200-bed athletes’ village that would be repurposed to more than 240 affordable housing units managed through its housing corporation. Another 24 units would be for athletes and coaches to use in future.

Construction would take place in 2024 and 2025.

The bid corporation pegs the total cost of hosting the Games at $5.23 billion, of which about $3 billion would be shouldered by taxpayers at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

But Calgary 2026 CEO Mary Moran said in a presentation Tuesday that it’s important to look at the bang for the buck.

She said it’s estimated there will be $2.2 billion in private investment and up to $1.5 billion in federal cash that would never flow without the Olympics, as well as a $2 billion boost to Alberta’s gross domestic product and $200 million in tax revenues.

There’s also the benefit of new and refurbished sports venues that will be used in the future, as well as less tangible benefits like the boost to Calgary’s profile on the world stage.

“If you look in the case of Vancouver, they had about $1 billion worth of advertising value during the Games, which would be hard for the civic partners in this community to achieve without a big international, well-televised global event like this.”

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