Photo credit: Alex Baron
The release of the Draft Hosting Plan Concept by Calgary 2026 this week has touched off a discussion about the impact of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Calgary – including the potential to accelerate implementation of the city’s new economic strategy.
Prior to the November 13 plebiscite, the Draft Hosting Plan Concept will help inform Calgarians about the opportunities rewarded to them from hosting The Games. The result of the plebiscite will guide City Council’s decision later this year as to whether or not Calgary will submit a bid to The Games.
As stewards of the Economic Strategy for Calgary, Calgary Economic Development fosters important conversations about our city’s future. We strongly encourage Calgarians to read the Draft Hosting Plan Concept and get informed before they vote.
The Games are a significant opportunity for Calgary; a high voter turnout for the plebiscite is critical to providing Council clear guidance in their decision-making process.
The Plan proposes $3 billion in investment from all orders of government. Most of the spending will go towards upgrading eight facilities in Calgary, as well as building two new facilities: a mid-sized arena and a multi-sport, multi-season field house.
For Calgary Economic Development, The Games are not viewed as a goal to achieve, but as a means to an end for the city. The Games represent an opportunity to support several of the intentions set out in the strategy, titled Calgary in the New Economy, which City Council unanimously passed in June.
The importance of “place” as a vital part of a city is a key element of the Economic Strategy. The upgrades and enhancements to sports and recreation facilities align with the goals around enhancing our citizens’ health and wellness and improving quality of life.
Calgary offers some of the lowest accessibility to affordable housing in major Canadian cities. In alignment with Enough for All, the poverty reduction strategy for Calgary, 80% of the 2,800 housing units are to become affordable and attainable units for underserved populations.
At a time when Calgary has the highest unemployment rate of major cities in Canada, 8.2 per cent, the 2,200 jobs Calgary 2026 forecasts will be created in the seven years leading up to The Games will contribute significantly to the city’s economy.
Initiatives such as the Legacy Fund will support arts and culture in the city. The Hosting Guide aligns with Calgary Economic Development’s support for the spirit of reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples in all major public initiatives.
The hosting of the Paralympics for the first time– which would be the size of the entire 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary – is an opportunity to embrace accessibility for all citizens and make Calgary the most accessible city in Canada.
“As Calgary Economic Development staff are out promoting investment in our city, companies routinely ask about the status of the Olympic bid and hosting The Games. It is an important consideration for many in terms of an attractive location,” said Steve Allan, Executive Chairman for Calgary Economic Development. “The publicity from the bid and potentially hosting The Games would create global brand awareness for Calgary, awareness that we could never match otherwise.”
Calgary’s Destination Strategy envisions Calgary as the ultimate hosts: Ultimate Host City for major sporting and cultural events. The Games, and the cultural Olympiad that exists before and after, align perfectly with that goal.
With greater awareness of Calgary, and much of the world coming to our city in 2026, Calgary Economic Development would work with other agencies to support local companies to ensure they are in a position to take advantage of the opportunities available to their business. We would also expand programs that get local companies ready to make inroads in key markets around the world.