Calgary should stand up against the visionless ultimatum that is Calgary2026

Calgary’s head of Economic Development has come up with the ‘idea’ that Calgary’s future is “the Olympics or nothing.” Now, as head of Calgary2026, they have spent $30 million in tax dollars, used 125 City employees for another $5 million, and 45 paid consultants to come up with a bid book to host the IOC that “lacks vision.”

Hosting the Olympics isn’t an idea, it’s an event.

We’ve already done it, and well, and doing it again has costs and risks with none of the benefits that we saw from 1988.

The vision in the Bid is upgrading 11 existing venues. Two of the upgrades are the Saddledome and McMahon Stadium that are operated by private interests and need to be replaced, not upgraded for hundreds of millions, and just a few more years of life.

Academic research on hosting the Olympics shows that job claims and economic impacts are significantly overstated. Vancouver jobs were exaggerated to 244,000 and came in at fewer than 20,000 short-term jobs based on two major capital projects. More than half of London jobs went to non-Londoners.

Calgary2026 is now using $1.4 million of your money to tell you the exaggerated claims and sell you on the emotions with images of athletes. We can enjoy those athletes by supporting them to compete on the world stage, bringing excitement and honour to our country, and save billions of dollars — probably supporting them better than we do now – by not putting a coat of paint on 30-year-old infrastructure.

We are letting Calgary Economic Development and City Council put all of our eggs – eggs we will pay for with debt – into one basket, and it’s not a new basket.

We will get to March 2026 and have an empty downtown. We’ll have been distracted from doing anything the City really needs, with debt added at all three levels of government. And we’ll still be wondering ‘what next?’

We’ll be seven years further along the sunset of the industry that is our sputtering, economic engine and, once again, we’ll have done nothing about it. Only this time, it won’t be a spike in oil prices that hides the cost of our procrastination.

We’ll not have invested in higher priority city investments that make our city more livable for everyone, we won’t have attracted new business sectors, and we won’t have made needed adjustments to, and investments in, our post-secondary education to better prepare for the new economy.

Other cities have said no to hosting the Olympics – Denver is a perfect example – and they’ve redirected their city’s economy and are thriving. They had the foresight to say, “Hosting the Olympics is an old idea that benefits the IOC more than it helps our city.”

So, Calgary2026 likes to say NoCalgaryOlympics hasn’t tabled an idea. In our spare time and without funding, we’ve been listening to Calgarians, concerned for our city.

Calgary2026 has not tabled an idea with $30 million of tax dollars and lots of hired plus City employee manpower. Now they are using $1.4 million of that money to advertise unsubstantiated claims to get you to say ‘Yes,’ not to a question, but to the ultimatum: “It’s the Olympics or nothing.”

We deserve better, Calgary. Vote ‘No’ on November 13th.

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