Olympic victory: Members of the No Calgary Olympics campaign celebrate after the result of the plebiscite was announced in Calgary Tuesday evening. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Olympic bid a pass in Calgary

Olympic memories were perhaps more negative than positive yesterday as the people of Calgary voted on whether to host the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

The question was simply, “Are you for or against Calgary hosting the 2026 Olympic Winter Games?”

With more 304,000 votes cast, a resounding 56 percent of the city said no.

“The people have spoken, the people have spoken in big numbers”

The 40 percent turnout suggests the passion was much stronger on the NO side, than all the campaigning for the YES side could muster.

This is what some Calgarians told the CBC’s Reid Southwick yesterday:


According to CBC News, 171,750 voted against a bid, and 132,832 voted in favour of the Games

Many people felt the province of Alberta’s largest city, with a population of 1,237,656, is still in such bad shaped following the collapse of oil prices in 2014, that it was not the time to be making investments in infrastructure and facilities to host the world.

Olympic loss: members of the Yes campaign react to the results of a plebiscite on whether Calgary should proceed with a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics on Tuesday evening. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Calgary is still coping with an unemployment rate hovering above 8 percent, and a vacancy rate of over 30 percent in the city’s office towers.

The official result of the plebiscite will be available Friday afternoon, at 3 p.m. but it appears to be officially over nonetheless.

Calgary mayor, Naheed Nenshi, said he was disappointed in the result, but he is honouring the outcome.

“The people have spoken, the people have spoken in big numbers, and the people have spoken clearly. And this is very clear direction for where we go from here,” he told the crowd last night.

Olympic memories fading in Calgary; the city skyline where vacancy rates are over 30 percent in these office towers. (CBC)

The no vote is especially challenging for some of Canada’s former Olympic athletes.

“I would challenge the city and ask what’s next? Because we need a plan”

Catriona Le May Doan, the two-time Olympic speed-skating champion, shared her reaction with CBC News.

“I don’t know if we will continue past ten years being a winter sport city,” she said. “I’m not sure. I would challenge the city and ask what’s next? Because we need a plan.”

“It showed us that we wanted to talk. But it also showed us that our city is very divided and that would start with Council. That’s a problem. We need to find out how to be less divisive as a community.” Le May Doan said.

Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, still considered one of the most successful of Olympic events.

Now the bidding remains between Stockholm, Sweden and a joint bid from Italy with Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in the running for the 2026 Winter Games.

Bids will be entered in January to the International Olympic Committee, and the host city will be chosen in Lausanne, Switzerland, in June 2019.

(With files from CBC and The Canadian Press)

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