The federal government says a financial fix for the soon-to-be-shuttered WinSport bobsled track will fall to Calgarians.
Federal sports minister Kirsty Duncan said Wednesday she hopes the remaining $8 million WinSport needs to complete needed repairs can be found in a “local solution.”
“We were disappointed that WinSport has decided to take this independent decision,” Duncan told reporters in Calgary.
“We have provided $6.8 million in order to keep this (facility) open and it’s our hope there will be a local solution because we want world-class athletes to train on world-class sport infrastructure.”
WinSport spokesman Dale Oviatt said the track, used for bobsled, skeleton and luge training and competition, is at the end of its life cycle after 33 years of service. The existing refrigeration system isn’t adequate to operate the track any further, he said.
Renovations were to start once the current season ended, but those plans were halted, with the track set to close March 3.
“The province and the federal government have provided a total of just under $17 million to the project, but we are $8 million short for the necessary work, and the end of the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic bid means those funds are not immediately forthcoming,” WinSport president and CEO Barry Heck wrote.
That sentiment was echoed by Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
“When we made the decision, as Calgarians, in November not to pursue 2026, it did mean that we had to look for different sources of funding,” Nenshi said.
“I think it’s important for us to point out to our friends at the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada that really making sure these legacy facilities continue to operate, that they continue to be jewels for Calgary and for high-performance amateur athletes across the country, is an important priority.”
Oviatt said WinSport has begun talks with Ottawa and Alberta on additional investment in upgrades, adding the scrapped Olympic bid and the attached potential funding boost “forced us to evaluate how to continue to serve our elite athletes as well as the tens of thousands of other people who enjoy these facilities.”
“The issue is more than just the $8-million gap to complete the track project, it’s about how we can ensure that we can operate the track and all of Canada Olympic Park sustainably for generations to come,” Oviatt said.
Meanwhile, Duncan remained mum on the topic of what the city should do with its leftover funds from the city’s 2026 Olympic bid preparations. The federal government, province and city of Calgary each put $10 million toward the bid campaign.
While the city wants to keep what’s expected to be an insignificant amount of remaining money for local amateur sport, the province has said it expects the money to be returned.
Duncan did not answer questions about what should be done with the funds, before her press secretary said the ministry couldn’t comment on the matter until Calgary 2026 delivers its wrap-up financial report, which is expected to be delivered to council on Feb. 25.
— With files from Ryan Rumbolt
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