Calgarians don't want to host Olympics, according to poll

Things have started to improve for the Yes side, however, since a funding agreement was negotiated and presented to the public on Oct. 30. It points to an interesting final week in the campaign.

With a week to go before voting day, it appears the No side is winning the debate

Scott Hutcheson, board chair of the Calgary 2026 bid corporation, centre, listens to Calgary city council debate motions to kill the 2026 Winter Olympic bid on Oct. 31. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Calgarians do not support hosting the Olympic Games, according to a new poll commissioned by CBC News. 

The poll suggests only 35 per cent of Calgarians eligible to vote in the Olympic plebiscite would vote to host the Games. Fully 55 per cent are opposed and 10 per cent are undecided. 

Provincially, 51 per cent would support hosting the Games, while 36 per cent are opposed and 13 per cent undecided.

The poll, however, should be read with a grain of salt. 

"I am approaching this poll cautiously," said Janet Brown, who conducted the poll. "Every poll is a snapshot in time and this is probably an especially blurry snapshot given how much uncertainty was happening while this poll was being administered."

Brown points to the fluidity of the debate at the time of the polling, with intense rounds of negotiations taking place between governments and a last-minute funding deal that was brought before city council at the 11th hour. 

Lead exceeds margin of error

The sample size was also small at 243 people, with a margin of error of 6.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 

Provincially, the survey of 900 people has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 

The Calgary numbers, however, still tell a story, says Brown.

"What we're seeing is a lead for the No side that exceeds the margin of error," she said. "So these numbers are well outside the margin of error. It's a small sample, but a well constructed sample."

The poll also shows support has plummeted from an earlier survey in June, which found 50 per cent of Calgarians and 58 per cent of Albertans supported a bid.

That survey posed a slightly different question, asking if respondents wanted to continue exploring a bid. 

The No side, in short, seems to be winning among Calgarians. 

Momentum for Yes campaign

The poll suggests things have started to improve for the Yes side, however, since a funding agreement was negotiated and presented to the public on Oct. 30. Support has climbed from a low of 26 per cent prior to the announcement to 39 per cent after. 

"Really, I think what this poll indicates is that this race isn't over and that the final few days — the final few days are always important in an election campaign, or any kind of campaign, but these final days are going to be particularly important in this plebiscite," said Brown.

The poll found support for the Games was particularly high among 18- to 24-year-olds (59 per cent), single people (56 per cent), those with children under 18 in their home (55 per cent) and Edmontonians (54 per cent).

The vote takes place on Nov. 13, but advanced polling opened on Tuesday and continues on Wednesday. Long lines formed early on the first day at some stations. 

The poll was conducted between Oct. 24 and Nov. 3 but was paused Oct. 30-31 due to uncertainty around the future of the bid. 


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