Nearly two-thirds of Calgarians and Bow Valley residents support a bid for the 2026 Olympics while 17 per cent oppose pursuing the Winter Games, according to a survey from the group spending $5 million to study a potential bid.
The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee, formed in September 2016 and chaired by former police chief Rick Hanson, released results Tuesday of a telephone and online survey conducted by Stone-Olafson of nearly 2,000 people from Calgary, Canmore, Banff and Cochrane conducted two months ago.
The survey found while support for an Olympic bid is high, respondents had concerns about infrastructure needs such as transportation and housing, economic health, and government finances and debt levels.
This is what Calgary Bid Exploration Committee found through phone/online survey. 2/3 of respondents support Olympic bid. #yyccc pic.twitter.com/FOecqR8ZhO— Annalise Klingbeil (@AnnaliseAK) May 16, 2017
“There is tremendous value in not only gathering, but truly understanding, the opinions of Calgarians and area residents," Hanson said in a prepared statement.
"As a Committee, we are invested in putting Calgary’s vision first. This means looking into every opportunity and concern identified by citizens during the bid exploration process."
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The survey found 32 per cent of respondents said they "strongly support" a Calgary bid for the 2026 Winter Games, while another 32 per cent said they support a bid.
Fifteen per cent of people who completed the survey said they were indifferent, while nine per cent opposed a bid, eight per cent strongly opposed a bid and four per cent were not sure.
Support was highest among people in Banff, at 79 per cent. In Calgary, support was strongest among people under the age of 55 and those who have lived in the area for less than 20 years.
Support for an Olympic bid is highest in Banff. Support among Calgarians higher among those under age 55. #yyccc pic.twitter.com/gqKnhz2D5L— Annalise Klingbeil (@AnnaliseAK) May 16, 2017
The survey also found 57 per cent of respondents said the cost of submitting a bid is a worthwhile investment, even if Calgary doesn’t win, and 53 per cent are confident the bid process will be “cost conscious and budgets will be managed well.”
Hanson told reporters earlier this month at an interim update the average price tag of recent Winter Olympics, excluding Sochi, Russia, is $3.2 billion and two full-sized arenas are required for Calgary to host the 2026 Games.
Related: Calgary would need two, full-size arenas to host another Winter Games: Hanson
The survey results will become part of the committee's final report and recommendation on a potential bid scheduled to be debated by city council on July 24.
It’s expected the results of a separate online questionnaire at ShouldCalgaryBid.com will also be included in the final report.
Regardless of whether or not Calgary’s elected officials vote in favour of a bid, 78 per cent of survey respondents said investment is needed to restore existing Olympic facilities from the 1988 games.
The survey results come after council voted 13-2 in favour of spending $5 million on the bid exploration in June 2016, with councillors Druh Farrell and Sean Chu opposing a bid.
While Farrell has publically called the International Olympic Committee corrupt, the survey found just 18 per cent of respondents had issues with Calgary being associated with the IOC.
Chu said the results of the survey don’t match up with what he’s been hearing from residents.
“I get lots of emails and people saying no (to an Olympic bid) because there’s so many unknowns and costs,” the Ward 4 councillor said.
The Stone-Olafson survey was conducted between March 6 to 19, 2017.