Starting today, Calgarians are being asked to vote by saying “Yes” or “No.”
What exactly we’re saying yes or no to, seems to change every hour. But the general gist of it is: do you want Calgary to continue to pursue an Winter Olympic 2026 bid?
Early voting starts today and tomorrow (November 6th and 7th) and then the official voting day is November 13th. (Here’s where and how to vote) Regardless of how much you care about this vote, please be sure to exercise your right to vote. This vote certainly isn’t life or death, but it’s still important to have your voice heard.
I don’t think I’ve ever voted in a plebiscite before, so I’m not sure if they are always so divided, but this one in particular feels very divided. And it sucks. If you publicly say that you’re voting “Yes” or “No”, you pretty much get a barrage of replies saying why you’re wrong. To say that some of both sides of the vote are taking it too far, is very accurate. Luckily, I’m used to people telling me I’m wrong, so here goes nothing.
Today, I’m heading to the early voting and I’m voting Yes.
First things first, my vote YES is not necessarily a win for the Yes campaign. Truth be told, they’ve barely said anything that resonates with me. But neither has the “No” side. And over the course of the discussion, my vote has changed back and forth. But the time to vote is here, so I have to make a decision and so I have. Knowing that lots of people are unsure, I thought I’d share with you how I came to my decision.
It was actually a friend of mine, Terry Rock, who is now the President & CEO Company of Calgary Technologies Inc who helped change my mind. Basically he said something along the lines of “Imagine for the next eight years, when you say your business is in Calgary, people say ‘Oh, I know that place, you’re hosting the Olympics!”
And really, that’s all it took for me to change my No vote to a Yes. This explanation makes perfect sense to me. I was a no vote for a very long time. I was annoyed that thousands of Calgarians fought for years to get bike lanes that cost $5 million dollars, and the city handed the same amount of money over to a committee to just to think about the Olympics without a second thought.
As I mentioned, the Yes side hasn’t really done anything that resonated with me. As someone who doesn’t play sports (except dodgeball, is that an olympic sport yet?), who doesn’t watch sports and really doesn’t care about sports, the over-reliance of sports start pandering for my vote, didn’t do much. If anything, I felt powerful that finally the jocks needed something from the gay theatre kid. That doesn’t happen much, and you better believe I’m loving every moment of it.
The reason why voting Yes makes sense, is that it makes sense for me. And that’s a-okay. Every single one of my businesses requires me to convince people that Calgary isn’t the city they think it is. Leave the 403, and the impression that Calgary is old, white, Conservative and filled with cowboys and horses. And sure, some of those things are sorta true, especially in July. The general Calgary-stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. If it was, I wouldn’t be living here.
For the blog, I need for people to see Calgary as an exciting place to come visit, to learn about, to live and to read about. For SocialWest, I need people to realize that major digital marketing events are happening outside of Toronto and Vancouver, and usually for way cheaper. And for Calgary By Bike, I need people to see and celebrate that we have the biggest bike network in North America. Sure, people love their trucks in this city, but there’s usually a bike in the back of them.
You might call my reasons selfish, and that’s okay. Voting in itself is sorta selfish.
And if getting the Olympics means that people around the country and world get a different and modern impression of Calgary, one that doesn’t rely on an over-sexed ten-day costume party with a questionable record of animal welfare, then I say, so be it.
My reason for voting Yes might make you want to scream, or email me something nasty. It might make you want to vote no, just to cancel out my vote. And honestly, as a fan of Survivor, I sort of love that idea. But that’s the thing about this vote, there isn’t a clear way to vote. To vote no, doesn’t make you wrong, neither does voting yes.
There’s a millions to vote one way or another, so just pick one. Ask your friends, as your family, do your own research. And make the best vote for you. Because that’s what you’ve been asked to do.
And as we get closer to the vote on November 13th, might I offer some advice to the Yes and No camps: Stick to the truth. Stick to the facts. Calm down with the crazy graphics, fake accounts and twisting of words. There’s lots of provable information out there for both sides to use to build their case. Calgarians care about this vote. Treat them with respect.