Potential Olympic, Paralympic Games bid now has a name: Calgary 2026

Terry Connors cross country skis on a driving range overlooking Calgary's skyline on Monday, Jan. 28, 2008. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

Calgary 2026 is up and running.

Work on a possible bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games is shifting to a bid corporation incorporated under that name just days ago.

Bidco chair Scott Hutcheson, a commercial real estate mogul and former national-team skier, was introduced Tuesday to a Calgary city council committee overseeing bid work currently done by a city project team.

Hutcheson said he intends to resign from various boards — including Own The Podium and Calgary’s WinSport — to avoid perceived conflict of interest with his new position.

He will, however, remain on the board of Aspen Properties, the company he co-founded.

"I wouldn’t put myself in a conflict of interest position, but perception is everything," Hutcheson told reporters at city hall.

"Secondly I don’t have the time to do that community work on many community boards as well as the way I want to work at this."

The bid corporation board — which will include representation from the city, provincial and federal governments, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Canmore, Alta., and Indigenous communities — will meet for the first time Thursday, Hutcheson said.

The first priority of Calgary 2026 is to hire a chief executive officer, he said.

Hutcheson, who is a volunteer chair, told the committee the job of CEO will require an extraordinarily energetic person.

"I think it’s an 80-hour-a-week job right now and I don’t want any CEO coming into the interview process without that as an objective," he told the committee.

"I think we’ve got some good candidates, both genders, on the potential CEO list today."

Hutcheson wants a CEO that complements his skill set.

"Hopefully we know how to divide and conquer," Hutcheson said. "As a board chair, that I’ve been fairly experienced at doing, my job is to be eyes in and fingers out and help develop strategy, but not be day to day in the hair of our chief executive officer."

The International Olympic Committee’s deadline for 2026 bid books is January 2019.

The city, province and federal government are splitting the cost of the bidco’s work estimated at $30 million. The bid book is scheduled to be finished by the end of October.

As a condition of its funding, the province wants Calgary to hold a plebiscite gauging the public’s interest in hosting a second Winter Games after 1988. The plebiscite is expected to be held in November.

Calgary city council also reserves the right to pull the plug on a bid at any point.

Sion, Switzerland appears to be fading as a potential competitor for 2026. Almost 54 per cent of voters in the region of Valais refused financial support Sunday for a bid.

Stockholm, Turin and Milan in Italy; Graz, Austria; Erzurum, Turkey and Sapporo, Japan have expressed interest in 2026.

The city project team has been building upon the research of the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee, that concluded a year ago a 2026 Winter Games will cost $4.6 billion with games revenue covering almost half.

But city council has since heard that estimate is likely too low. Work continues on financials and other elements of hosting a games.

The council committee was told Tuesday that money could be saved on drug testing if, instead of building temporary lab in Calgary, urine and blood samples are flown to the Montreal lab accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The IOC required Vancouver to establish a $20-million temporary lab in 2010, but no longer does in an effort to cut costs for host cities.

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