A ‘No’ vote on Games is a ‘Yes’ vote for Cal­gary

IOC not the kind of out­fit you want to do busi­ness with, Erin Waite says.

Calgary Herald - - OPINION - Erin Waite is com­mu­ni­ca­tions lead for NoCal­gar­yO­lympics.org.

The NoCal­gar­yO­lympics cam­paign has, un­sur­pris­ingly, been called neg­a­tive and naysay­ing. But those who fol­low our cam­paign and have joined us know that we are com­mit­ted to re­spect­ful con­ver­sa­tion and shar­ing ac­cu­rate, rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion. It was the search for this very in­for­ma­tion that led me to take a No po­si­tion, even as my pas­sion for our city has only grown stronger.

I love cheer­ing on our Cal­gary teams and ath­letes, and be­ing part of a city that is quick to say Yes! I don’t wear the No cloak very eas­ily.

But the more I learned about the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee and the raw deal that is the host city con­tract, the more con­cerned I be­came.

No mat­ter how Olympic host­ing costs are shared, the host city con­tract makes Cal­gary solely re­spon­si­ble for cost over­runs.

And if we have a change in provin­cial gov­ern­ment and their fi­nan­cial sup­port goes away, can Cal­gary tax­pay­ers pick up the tab?

Our coun­cil’s mis­steps and lack of trans­parency added to my dis­com­fort. At the end of the sum­mer, a coun­cil­lor asked, point­edly, why we were pur­su­ing an Olympic bid, and nei­ther his peers nor the bid com­mit­tee staff could an­swer. Af­ter pour­ing mil­lions of dollars into a bid devel­op­ment process, there was no clear — never mind com­pelling — rea­son “why.”

Watch­ing the process over the sum­mer, the prob­lems con­tin­ued. Are we confident in a process when ev­ery dead­line has been missed? We al­ready have cost over­runs for cre­at­ing a bid doc­u­ment — what are the chances there will be more? So far, 150 city em­ploy­ees have been work­ing on the bid. Can we af­ford this cost and dis­trac­tion?

But as my wor­ries grew, I re­al­ized some­thing: say­ing No doesn’t come from a neg­a­tive place at all.

We’ve come to­gether, and thou­sands of Cal­gar­i­ans are join­ing us, be­cause of our con­fi­dence in Cal­gary.

We be­lieve in our ca­pac­ity to re­tain and build on our po­si­tion as a great place to live. We know who we are: a city that has ini­ti­ated and in­no­vated a suc­cess­ful, world-renowned en­ergy sec­tor. We have cre­ated the na­tion­ally sig­nif­i­cant and en­vied Cal­gary Ex­hi­bi­tion and Stam­pede.

We aren’t say­ing No to the Olympics be­cause we ques­tion our abil­ity to take on a ma­jor, multi-year, bil­lion­dol­lar pro­ject. We have the ca­pac­ity for just about any­thing.

We sim­ply don’t want the IOC as the coun­ter­party.

Iron­i­cally, the neg­a­tiv­ity comes from the Yes side. We are hear­ing from Yes pro­po­nents that if we don’t host the Olympics, we’ll crum­ble as a city. Their leader says that short-term, low pay­ing jobs are “bet­ter than noth­ing.” This pes­simistic take isn’t wor­thy of our fine city. It’s frankly in­sult­ing to think of host­ing the Olympics again as a way to “help us fig­ure out who we are.”

Cal­gar­i­ans who love their city will vote No. Cal­gar­i­ans who are con­fused by the city set­ting an aus­ter­ity bud­get that cuts ba­sic ser­vices while spend­ing billions on the IOC will vote No. The Cal­gar­i­ans I know aren’t fooled by false claims, un­der­stated costs, and risks that we can’t af­ford —they are vot­ing No.

Say­ing No to the IOC’s party tells our city coun­cil, provin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments more about the heart, en­ergy and fo­cus — the iden­tity — of Cal­gar­i­ans than the IOC will ever un­der­stand.

By say­ing No, you’ll be say­ing to coun­cil: Let’s shape our fu­ture, build our econ­omy, and grow our city so that it works for all Cal­gar­i­ans, not just a few who would ben­e­fit from host­ing the Games.

The plebiscite is an op­por­tu­nity for Cal­gar­i­ans to say No.Why?

Be­cause we can do bet­ter.

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