Ten prominent Calgary business leaders spoke out on Thursday in support of the city bidding for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. They say hosting the Games would provide the spark Calgary needs to put the city back on the global stage.
They say the Games’ exposure will allow them to better market their businesses, create jobs and attract talent, and foster a long-term climate of investment that could see hundreds of millions of dollars injected into the local economy.
Calgarians will vote on Nov. 13 in a plebiscite on whether to support an Olympics bid. Recent polling suggests a majority of Calgarians are opposed to a bid. Mayor Naheed Nenshi, a vocal supporter of a bid, has said city council will follow the advice of citizens.
“I see a chance to be positive. I see a chance to bring unity,” said Jim Button, co-founder of Village Brewery. “The Olympics if done right can help build a healthier city.”
The leaders variously argue hosting the Games would bring up to 20,000 jobs, see a long-desired fieldhouse built in the city, and help address a shortage in affordable housing.
“It’s going to put Calgary on the global map again,” said Mark Petros, owner of Nick’s Steakhouse & Pizza.
Following are statements from each of the business leaders:
Ravinder Minhas – Founder, Minhas Brewery & Distillery:
“One of the biggest struggles Manjit (sister and co-founder) and I face is we’re always trying to explain where Calgary is to people. Why we brew here, where Calgary is and how beautiful a city it is. And so, an Olympics helps with that where it puts us on a world stage again. And from a business perspective, we know it will bring more tourism dollars in and not just during the Games but before and after as well. We see that as a benefit for our business and in general for agriculture in Alberta.”
Tanya Eklund – The Tanya Eklund Group and RE/MAX Real Estate (Central):
“Calgary’s really had the life sucked out of us in the last few years and I feel like we need life injection back into Calgary. Our unemployment rate is still high and the Olympics will generate $2 billion in growth, $1 billion of job growth, and 20,000 jobs will be created. I believe this is what Calgary needs to get some life back. It needs it for our employment. It will provide $4.4 billion of private capital and government funding to our community which otherwise we wouldn’t have. Economically Calgary needs this event to stimulate our city.”
Cody Clayton – President, Remington Development Corp.
“A fieldhouse is desperately needed in the city. It’s embarrassing that a city of this size and calibre doesn’t have a fieldhouse. You look across Canada and there’s fieldhouses in almost every city across the country. That’s something as a new facility that has to be built regardless of the Olympics happening. The affordable housing piece. We know there’s a deficiency in Calgary and if you can re-utilize an Olympic Village, Media Village, and supplement some of the affordable housing need that’s a great win for the city.”
PJ L’Heureux – Owner, CRAFT Beer Market/ Trolley 5/ St. James Corner/ Home & Away
“We have a CRAFT in Olympic Village in Vancouver. The Olympics were in 2010 and we signed the deal in 2012. They took a very desolate area of Vancouver and developed around it and it is arguably the hottest neighbourhood and the most desirable neighbourhood in Vancouver. On a business perspective, what I’ve seen in Vancouver, there’s nothing you can do better in a city than the Olympics. What it’s done to that community and that area, there’s hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in the community, based right around the Olympic area that was not there before.”
Kip Fyfe – CEO, 4iiii Innovations Inc.
“4iiii is one piece of a larger sport innovation story that is happening in and around our community. Cochrane has several leading sports-tech companies, including 4iiii Innovations Inc. and Garmin Canada. In fact, we produce more wearable sports technology gear per capita than anywhere else in the world. Bringing the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to Calgary will give businesses like ours in the Calgary region a global stage to showcase our leadership and attract talent, investment and more like-minded entrepreneurs.”
Mark Petros – Owner, Nick’s Steakhouse & Pizza
“It’s going to put Calgary on the global map again. Get it fresh in everyone’s eyes. We’re not just a city hosting the Winter Olympics. We have the Calgary Stampede. We have arts and entertainment. I think it’s good for all Calgarians. It’s good for the Uber drivers, for the taxi drivers, the bars, the restaurants, movie theatres. It’s good for the economy and in our depressed economy we’ve had so long, to me this is nothing but a breath of fantastically fresh air to get us back on track.”
Arlene Dickinson – CEO of Venture Communications
“I get excited thinking about our city hosting 16 days of world-class competition in the winter of 2026. But I’m just as energized by the thought of the many local entrepreneurs who will have the opportunity to showcase their ideas, their ingenuity and their business skills as the Olympics approach and the world watches. Let’s give this new generation of entrepreneurs a unique chance to create and grow the businesses that will help power our economy through the rest of this century.”
Ryan Gill – CEO and Co-founder, Communo and Cult Collective
“Business is hard. It’s hard to wake up every day when things aren’t looking great. You need something to look forward to. You need vision. I feel this city has lost a bit of it. They’ve kind of lost their way. They wander around in the wilderness right now. What’s next? Although the Olympics is here one minute and gone, at least it gives us something – that belief that economic development and things will start happening again. It comes back to the activity that can be in the market again if something big is coming to the city.”
Sam Kolias – Chairman and CEO, Boardwalk REIT
“After the completion of those (’88) Games and the experience everybody shared, there was absolutely no question it changed Calgary and our community and country forever. And what an honour and privilege and blessing it would be to have it again. To experience that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity again – we have to do everything we can to support and make a 2026 Games as memorable and amazing as the ’88 edition was and any other Games that have ever been hosted.”
Jim Button – Co-founder, Village Brewery
“I see a chance to be positive. I see a chance to bring unity. The world feels like it’s built on a yes or no, black or white, Republican or Democrat, Conservative or NDP. And it’s not. … A galvanizing time brings people to the same spot. If you live in the northeast, you might now meet someone in the southwest. It’s about bringing people together to solve society’s challenges. The Olympics if done right can help build a healthier city. As a man living with cancer, I’ve added a new portfolio to my purpose, and that’s a healthy Calgarian. The Olympics has the greatest opportunity to talk a lot about a healthy city, exercise, mental health, unity.”
| Calgary’s Business