So, nearly 57% of Calgarians voted last night in huge numbers (304,000 total votes) to decline hosting the Olympic Games in 2026. As Calgary Major Naheed Nenshi put it, “Ultimately, the people have spoken.” It is big news, surprising to some, expected by others, but one thing is for sure it has hit a cord!
Now, how do we know this? Well, we’ve spent a chunk of this morning (the morning after the vote) in a coffee shop in the heart of Canada’s 4th largest city. The vote has been the most common topic of conversation and to say people are animated would be an understatement. It is THE topic of conversation.
So, to give you a flavor of what is the topic of conversation, we thought we’d share six of the things we heard…
- We heard the view that people, in this case Calgarians, have difficulty thinking into the future. They are focused on the realities of today and something 8 years off with risk is hard to wrap your head around.
- One patron lamented that the Games “would have been fun”.
- We noticed (and this was more a case of what we did not hear) that there is a segment of Calgarians who really had no interest in the plebiscite, the vote or hosting the Olympics.
- We heard about fear in spending tax dollars on capital projects (e.g., ski jump, arena) what may not provide a return.
- We heard some, likely ‘yes’ voters, complain about “turning away” millions and millions of dollars of investment.
- We heard that there is a belief that the city, and council in particular, has many other priorities to deal with, whether a pipeline, social programs or jobs. One coffee drinker was adamant that city council could not afford the distraction from the day-to-day work of bidding for and hosting a Games.
One thing’s for sure: the people continue to speak.
Perhaps 2030? Perhaps Quebec City?
Photo by Vytautas Dranginis on Unsplash
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This post was written by Norm O'Reilly & Elisa Beselt