If there’s a time to take the bull by the horns – to act decisively to take control of a legitimately complex and thorny situation – it is now.
If there’s a group of people to do it, it’s Calgarians.
The decision whether Calgary should bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games has now been hotly debated for weeks. Calgarians are passionate in their opinions about their city and in having a voice in its future. City Council should allow Calgarians to have a say in what they want their city to be for their children and future generations.
At a time when many people feel manipulated by politicians or the “Yes” or “No” campaigns around this decision that will impact the city for years, people deserve the opportunity to vote in the plebiscite to let City Council know their feelings.
Calgary Economic Development is clear we support a responsible bid for the Games.
We want Calgarians to rally around a bid that provides value for taxpayers and the opportunity to propel our economy forward. We are enthusiastic about the 50-plus days celebrating sports and culture in 2026 – it certainly helps to stake our claim as the ultimate host city – but as an economic development agency, we are far more excited about more than a decade of opportunities for local businesses to benefit from the Games.
Calgarians know we don’t control much in today’s uncertain world. We’re forced to take discount prices for our oil and gas. We can’t get a pipeline to tidewater and no one knows what is going to happen next with our next-door neighbor and biggest trading partner.
We are facing historic headwinds in many areas of the economy that we can’t control. One thing we can take into our own hands, as a city, is this bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This is a take-it or leave-it opportunity to leverage other people’s money – the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, International Olympic Committee and others – to create the city we want.
Calgary has just introduced a new economic strategy to serve as a roadmap to the city that we want to be not just in 2026, but in 2036 and 2046. It’s rooted on the critical roles of four elements – people, place, innovation and business environment – in our enduring prosperity. We can champion accessibility, inclusion and innovation in these Games.
Hosting the Games will accelerate implementing the new economic strategy. It gives us an opportunity to continue to be a city that leads the world and is vital to Canada. Hosting the Games gives us a chance to showcase our city globally, invite the best and brightest to our doorstep and empower our companies to thrive in a world of opportunities.
This isn’t a simple calculation. The return on investment for Calgary to host a Games goes beyond the economic numbers. If you think of what we did with the opportunity to boost up Calgary in 1988, just imagine what we could do now.
If ever there was city with the DNA to take the bull by the horns and succeed, it’s Calgary.