Canada City staff working on Olympic file 'significantly' under resourced: city manager

09:00  16 may  2018
09:00  16 may  2018 Source:

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The city’s work on a potential bid for the 2026 Olympic Games has been challenged by new information coming in “almost hourly” and the fact that staff that are “significantly under-resourced,” a council committee heard Tuesday.

“We are under-resourced, significantly under-resourced,” said city manager Jeff Fielding of the city’s Olympic project team.

“We have a real challenge in terms of being able to free up staff that are already committed to work that’s going on within the corporation.

“Right now, it’s a fairly lean group of people and they’re doing double duty in some cases.”

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The challenges faced by staff working on the file emerged in a committee meeting Tuesday where councillors saw updated budget numbers on Olympic spending.

Calgary has spent $5.2 million on a potential Olympic bid as of April 30, according to the city. Those funds come from a total pot of $30 million assembled by the municipal, provincial and federal governments for the Olympic bid corporation.

“We are under budget as of this time and I think we’ll be working to come in under budget in terms of all of this bid work,” said Coun. Evan Woolley, who chairs the Olympic committee.

Among the disclosures made at Tuesday’s meeting was a list of 32 consultants who have been hired by the city at different times since work on a bid first began in 2016.

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“We have listed everybody that has worked, whether they’ve worked two hours or 100,” Woolley said. “Just in terms of openness and transparency, (we) have been pushing to get all that information (to) Calgarians.”

City staff have been working long hours to meet key deadlines on the Olympic file, including the completion of a draft budget with forecasted capital and operational costs for hosting the Games that will come to council in June.

Woolley told Postmedia he’s hopeful that some of the strain on staff will be alleviated with the approval of a new governance structure set to oversee work on the Olympic file that committee members endorsed Tuesday. He said there may need to be more resources provided to the city’s team or it may be that some of the work can be taken over by a bid corporation this fall.

“On this file specifically, we are under-resourced for all of the work that we need to undertake,” Woolley said.

“We need to really map out who is working on what today and what is that work over the next months — do we have enough resources to do this work competently? What work will the BidCo do?”

Committee members also spent nearly two hours in a closed session Tuesday discussing the recruitment of a candidate for the chair of the bid corporation.

Calgarians could learn the identity of the person chosen to lead a potential bid within the next two weeks.

The next meeting of the Olympic committee on May 29 is expected to tackle what kind of plebiscite question should be put to Calgarians regarding a bid.
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