Alberta government expecting to see partial refund of Olympic bid funding

The province expects to see a partial refund of the funds it committed to a potential Calgary Olympic bid once the bid corporation wraps up its work.

Cheryl Oates, spokeswoman for Premier Rachel Notley, said $7 million had been paid toward the bid, including an installment of $5 million to the city in the spring and a second payment of $2 million to the Calgary 2026 Olympic Bid Corp. The province said it will cover a third of whatever the final actual costs are.

Oates said Calgary 2026 is finalizing its financial statements and “determining the amounts of refunds that are owed to the various levels of government.” An independent auditor will then look at the bid corporation’s financial statements.

“We expect the financial statements to be completed this winter and we expect the audit to be completed in the spring,” Oates said.

“We hope to receive a partial refund over the next couple of months, and a final payment after the audit is finished in the spring.”

In addition to the $7 million the province paid toward the bid, the Alberta government also made a separate commitment of $2 million to the city to cover the costs of the plebiscite. Oates said the province expects to receive a report from the city “in the coming weeks” on the plebiscite spending.

Mary Moran, chief executive officer for Calgary 2026, said as part of the bid corporation’s final work, it will produce a report identifying the cost for upgrades to legacy infrastructure “in order for Calgary to protect its sport-related tourism and its position as winter sport centre of excellence.”

“This will be released sometime in the first couple of months of 2019,” Moran said Saturday.

Moran said the bid corporation has not finished reviewing finances from three stages of work related to a potential Olympic bid, including when the project was managed by the city.

“We have skeleton staff to do this over (the) next few months,” Moran said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in November he will advocate for the city to retain the provincial and federal contributions to the fund, created to pursue a potential Olympic bid.

“That was money for the City of Calgary for sports work and sports planning and we should keep it,” he said at the time.

“I will continue to advocate for that. I do not anticipate the bid corporation or the city writing a cheque back to the province and the federal government for a refund.”

Coun. Sean Chu said Saturday that the province should get any unspent dollars back.

“If I give you something for a certain thing and you don’t get it, I want my money back,” he said. “And I think the Alberta government should take the money back.”

ycole@postmedia.com

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