Support for Calgary Olympic bid drops, new poll suggests

Support for a Calgary 2026 Winter Olympics bid has dropped in the past few months, a new poll suggests.

Plebiscite expected by end of the year will decide whether Calgary bids

A new poll conducted for CBC News suggests that 50 per cent of Calgarians are in favour of a bid and 44 per cent are opposed. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Support for a Calgary 2026 Winter Olympics bid has dropped in the past few months, a new poll suggests.

The poll, conducted for CBC News, suggests that 50 per cent of Calgarians support a bid — a number that has fallen seven percentage points since March.

  • Find the full poll report at the bottom of this story

The poll, done by Janet Brown Opinion Research, suggests opposition to a bid sits at 44 per cent.

Outside of Calgary, support for a bid is slightly stronger but a downward trend has been found among those respondents as well.

Daniel Gauld, who is with the group No Calgary Olympics, said he's a bit surprised at the amount of opposition.

"I had anticipated the number actually might be higher in favour of hosting just given the fact that Calgarians so far haven't been given any real data or information," said Gauld. 

The city is expecting to get details in September about how much federal and provincial money there would be for another Calgary Olympics.

Daniel Gauld, with the group No Calgary Olympics, says he expects as Calgarians get more information on the cost of staging the Olympics, opposition to a bid will grow. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

That could help determine how much money the city would be expected to provide if it is named the host city for 2026.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said he wants that financial information available for voters before a plebiscite is held this November on whether the city should submit a bid for the games.

Gauld expects that as Calgarians get more information — particularly on the cost of staging the Olympics — the opposition to a bid will grow.

The poll found that that younger respondents are more likely to support a games bid while Calgarians with the highest opposition could be found in those over the age of 65.

Gauld found that a bit surprising as older Calgarians are more likely the ones with fond memories of the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

This fall's plebiscite will feature "yes" and "no" campaigns lobbying voters on a soon-to-be revealed question regarding an Olympic bid.

The yes camp will be led by a group calling itself Yes Calgary 2026.

Jason Ribeiro, one of the people who will speak for that group, said he expects their camp's numbers are only going upwards from here.

"The fact that we're seeing majority support doesn't surprise me but I would estimate that that number is going to grow," said Ribeiro. "That number's going to grow once we get people engaged in a conversation about what a yes will actually mean."

Jason Ribeiro is an organizer with Yes Calgary 2026. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

An impartial public engagement campaign will be conducted by the Calgary 2026 bid corporation.

Ribeiro said the higher levels of support for the Olympics among younger Calgarians will be important as the plebiscite approaches.

The poll found 65 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds support a bid and Calgary's population does skew younger than many other cities in Canada.

"We're starting to see a little bit of a generational shift about who is supporting this bid," said Ribeiro. 

"Large groups of Calgarians that may be new, that weren't here in 1988, that are ready to take the reins and define what a 2026 Games might actually look like."

He points out that Calgary still has sports facilities from the 1988 Games and it's looking at ways of leveraging the Olympics to improve those facilities and build a new legacy for Calgary's future.

Janet Brown conducted the poll for CBC Calgary. (CBC)

Pollster Janet Brown said the drop in Olympic support since March is noteworthy.

"We found in that short period of time that there's been a seven point drop. That's statistically significant and I think that really says something about some of the concerns that are bubbling up for Calgarians about this bid."

Support for a potential Calgary Olympic bid is actually higher outside of Calgary.

Among all Alberta respondents, support for an Olympic bid sits at 55 per cent versus 36 per cent who are opposed.

The highest support is found in Edmonton, where 60 per cent support the Games returning to Calgary with just 29 per cent opposed.

The random survey of 900 Albertans was conducted between June 12 and June 19. 

It carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 

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