Calgary council approves non-binding Olympics plebiscite with question

Calgary city council has voted to approve a non-binding plebiscite for later this year testing resident interest in hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Plebiscite could be held Nov. 13 and the question is now on the table

Calgary council has approved a non-binding plebiscite and question related to the city's possible 2026 Winter Olympics bid (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Calgary city council has voted to approve a non-binding plebiscite for later this year testing resident interest in hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics.

With a vote of 13 to one at Tuesday's council meeting, the plebiscite could be held November 13 with the following multiple choice question:

Question: Are you for or are you against Calgary hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?

Residents could choose between "I am for Calgary hosting" or "I am against Calgary hosting," as the two possible answers.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi told reporters the question is written more objectively than a simple "yes" or "no."

"I think this is much much more straightforward," said Nenshi. "The experts really told us that if you say yes or no, you automatically bias it toward yes — because people would rather say yes than no, and so this is a little bit more clear and I think it's very straightforward."

Although the plebiscite — which could cost about $2 million — isn't a done deal just yet.

There's a potential special meeting of council set for August 27 which could result in a vote to halt work or continue. Then on September 10, there'll be another discussion at council which could result in a vote to wrap it all up, or allow the work to continue.

Coun. Jeromy Farkas said constituents should contact their ward representatives and the mayor to help the municipal politicos get a feel for how Calgarians feel about a potential 2026 Olympic bid. 

"I think it's really important that when we get back in September and we're considering things like an off-ramp that we actually have a sense of what's being said," Farkas told reporters.

"It's not just for those who may be opposed to a bid, but I would say if you're in favour of a bid, having ideas about how we can execute better, we would want that incorporated."


With files from Scott Dippel